Yoga Prop Substitutions for Home Practice
Over the last year I have been teaching yoga exclusively in a virtual environment. My classes are generally adapted to all levels and abilities, so the use of props and variations is common. One of the greatest challenges my students and I face is the use of props for pose variation and alignment. In this post I would like to share common substitutions for yoga props that you probably have at home.
1. Yoga Blocks
Blocks are one of the most common props used in yoga. Blocks are often used to support alignment and to assist with balance. They are frequently used in restorative poses to help support the body and facilitate relaxation. In lieu of blocks, consider using a stack of heavy books, shoe boxes, or similarly sized Amazon boxes. (Standard sized yoga blocks measure 4 x 6 x 9 inches.)
2. Yoga Strap
Yoga straps are also used to assist with alignment. Often they are used to help facilitate stretching, as well as to support the body in restorative postures. In lieu of a yoga strap you could use a long scarf, belt, or dog-leash. (Standard sized yoga straps measure 6, 8, and 10 feet long.)
3. Yoga/Mexican Blankets
Like blocks, yoga blankets are often used to support alignment as well as in restorative postures. They can be rolled up and used to support the body or unfolded and used to provide gentle weight over the torso, hips, or legs in restorative postures to assist with tension release or foster a sense of containment and comfort. You can generally use a standard throw blanket or pillows as a substitute for a yoga blanket, depending on what you are using it for. (Yoga blankets are generally the size of a standard throw blanket, measuring between 54" - 65" and 78" - 83" inches, and weighing between 2.8 - 4 pounds.)
Bolsters are generally used in restorative yoga poses and practices to support the body and foster relaxation and release of muscle tension. Occasionally, however, they can be used in lieu of blocks or blankets. You can substitute a stack of standard or king-sized pillows (I recommend at least 2) for a bolster in most cases. A couple of tightly rolled up blankets, or blanket rolled around pillows can also be used. (A standard yoga bolster measures around 24-28 inches long and 10-12 inches wide.)
5. Chair on a Non-slip Surface
A chair can be used to offer alternatives to standing and seated-floor postures for those with varying levels of ability and injury. Chairs can be used to support balance in standing and squatting postures and even as a support in some restorative postures. It can also be used as a compliment to more challenging poses to support arm balances and deepen stretches and back bends. A simple chair that has stationary legs or can otherwise be locked into place on a non-slip surface can be used for most poses. I actually use a standard folding chair purchased from my local hardware store.
Hopefully this information is helpful to you in your exploration of your practice, at home and beyond! Please feel free to reach out to me with comments or questions to this post!