Yoga is a journey! Our bodies and practice are equally dynamic, and require our mindfulness each and every time we step onto our mat. Some days will be met with greater energy and ease; while other days will involve some lethargy, stiffness, and an overall sense of “blah”… it happens!
As we continue to explore our practice, we will come across certain Yoga poses (asanas) that may not be immediately within our reach. However we can still achieve a variation of this pose with the help and support of Yoga Props. Rather than regarding props as crutches to compensate for our “inadequacy”, let’s start using these props to leverage ourselves into new postures, while developing some muscle-memory, as our body takes the time and space it needs to navigate this new territory. It’s all about perspective!
Many of us may already be familiar with some of the basic yoga props we’ve seen/used in a studio-setting, such as: straps, bolsters, blocks, and blankets. However, there are possibly MORE props available to us within our own home, that are simple, effective, and won’t require shopping for additional items!
Here are some items that are great to bring to your mat for your practice:
Blankets & Towels
The versatility of blankets and towels make these the perfect choice for quick and effective yoga props. Long bath towels can instantly become straps to shorten the gap as we reach for our toes in Head-to-Knee pose (Janu Sirasana), or to support our foot in a Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe pose (Supta Padangusthasana). Blankets can be folded or rolled into an easy bolster to elevate our hips in Easy Seated Pose (Sukhasana) and Hero Pose (Virasana); placed under our knees to soften our Seated Forward Fold (Dandasana), or rolled and aligned between our shoulder blades for a supported back-bend (Fish Pose/Matsyasana). For seasoned yogis, using a towel as a strap can extend your reach to achieve King Pigeon (Raja Kapotasana), and Dancer pose (Natarajasana).
Bed pillows offer the ideal length and fullness to support us in a variety of yoga poses. We can rest upon a pillow to enhance the restorative benefits of Child’s pose (Balasana) and Corpse pose (Savasana). A large pillow fills the gaps as we navigate into Leg Splits (Hanumanasana) and Pigeon pose (Kapotasana), fostering a supportive cushion beneath our hips and legs, as we build flexibility and mobility in our joints.
Having clear access to a wall, or even a kitchen counter, can serve as a surprising prop to support some otherwise challenging yoga poses. As a sturdy touch-point, we can lean into walls to support our balancing poses such as Tree (Vrksasana), Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana), and Dancer (Natarajasana). We can safely and confidently rely on walls as we work toward tricky inversions such as Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) and Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana); as well as restorative poses such as Legs-Up-the-Wall (Viparita Karani).
Books & Boxes
Firm books and boxes are great replacements for yoga blocks. While standing, having a thick book (or two) placed in front of our feet can shorten the distance while reaching down for a standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana). Same goes for maintaining our spinal alignment and experiencing that deep stretch in Pyramid pose (Parsvottanasana). These home-sourced blocks allow us to reach, without having to compromise any stretch benefits for our legs, and protect our lower back! It’s a win-win-win.
Interested in learning more?
Check out Elizabeth's video on using your everyday home items as props on our IG TV!
Written by: Elizabeth Fox
Most of us are now close to the two month mark of our stay-at-home time in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This means that some of us have had time to process what is going on, take personal inventory of our emotions, and make a plan for what the next steps might include. It also means that for others, there has been little time to reflect due to working, home-schooling, personal and family health and well-being issues, food and safety issues, and the list goes on. While each of our situations can be very different, it’s important to show compassion for one another and be there to emotionally support those in our close circle and community. One of the most profound ideas I have seen throughout this pandemic is the idea that we are all in the same storm, and our boats may be differently equipped to handle the struggles at hand.
While we navigate each day simultaneously alone and together, it’s important to take note and care of your personal mental health. Again, this can look very different for each of us; a parent or caregiver of three might have only a bathroom break to take stock and check-in where a person living alone might have an entire afternoon or a luxurious quiet walk to be able to check-in and assess their mental health.
Regardless, our mental health is an important piece of our overall health. We are moving through these uncharted waters as a human collective, so be kind and know that you don’t have to have this all sorted out and make sense of things that make no sense. Instead, focus on yourself; on what you can do to help keep yourself healthy, which in turn, helps keep those around you healthy.
2. Create a Routine: Take control of what you can! With so many unknowns out there, try waking up at the same time each day, setting structure to the day, and going to bed at the same time. Can you schedule a workout or a walk so that you know you have prioritized time to take care of you? Our brains favour the consistency of routine and it helps us to feel less anxious.
3. Lean on Your Community: We’ve heard so many times that we are all in this together. While each of our days and situations can vary drastically, it’s important to stay connected. Reach out to your friends, family, and community at large. Perhaps your worship community is connecting online, or your regular bridge group still meets virtually; find ways to stay connected to your circle. When moments or days get tough, reach out to them and ask for support. It’s ok to not be ok, and to lean on those who care about you when you need them.
5. Take a News Break: There is news everywhere! Pay attention to when the news starts to feel overwhelming. With constant updates on our phones, televisions, and computers, give your brain a much-needed break.
Of course these are just a few thoughts that have worked for me, but the ways to support your metal health can encompass so much and be a very individualized plan. Mental and physical health have always been deemed as important, but we may see even more value in it as we navigate this global pandemic. Be sure to take excellent care of yourself and to manage the things that you can control. We will make our way through this, alone and together.
Written by: Christine Noonan
Liberty Life Yoga teachers, students & partners sharing on #livingthelibertylife