While most yoga equipment is a universal fit, custom yoga props are available for people with different proportions or special needs.
The Importance of Yoga Props
Part of the foundation of yoga is to enhance the individual. The B.K.S. Iyengar method of using props in Hatha yoga practice introduced thousands to the benefits of yoga. In his book, Light on Yoga: The Bible of Modern Yoga, Iyengar stresses that the use of props encourages individuals to listen to their bodies and gain a better understanding of the mind-body-spirit connection. Proper form is critical, but the body takes a journey through yoga. Iyengar's philosophy provides beginning yogis a way to progress through a pose gradually with the help of prop aids. This is far more beneficial than being intimidated by a pose and giving up.
Blocks, straps, pillows, bolsters, wedges - these tools enable even those of us with little to no flexibility "feel" the posture in the best way we can. Just as training wheels enable the first-time bike rider to focus on handling the machine, props force you to zero in on how to move in and out of the pose.
The use of props also prevents injury and stabilizes yogis during balancing poses. But, when you're ready to further the pose without the props, the sensation is very similar to the exhilaration of riding without training wheels!
Buying Custom Yoga Props
Your best bet for finding custom yoga props right away is through an online resource. Some major metropolitan areas do have retailers that arrange special equipment orders, but often use the same vendors you'll find online.
A popular manufacturer of handmade wooden props is Custom Yoga Props, based in Arizona. The equipment Custom makes is designed to help all levels of yoga performance. Many of the items are specialty items that help the body or advance the pose. In addition to the normal bolsters, blocks and straps, you'll find props like the back roller, the heart bench, and the meditation bench. All listed prices include shipping, and custom orders are welcome.
Yoga Accessories stocks many hard-to-find props that help practitioners with special needs. If you have wrist or shoulder problems, consider using a sandbag or eye pillow to alter the pressure distribution. Thera-Bands are used in yoga therapy sessions to strengthen muscles and improve range of motion. Customize the length of your yoga mat by ordering a yoga mat roll and cutting a new mat to your size whenever you need it. You'll also find zafus and zabutons on this site to help you during sitting poses or provide a soft place for meditation practice. Yoga Accessories offers special wholesale discounts to studios and instructors.
Make Your Own Props
Household items come in handy when you need to customize for additional support. For example:
- Use a blanket or thick towel as a bolster or temporary yoga mat.
- Cut a small ball in half to use as wrist support.
- Stack two small throw pillows under your head, chest, or back as a wedge.
- Tie two neckties together for a strap.
- Use books of varying thickness as blocks by first tying them together with rope.
- Hold onto a sturdy chair during balancing poses.
Have an old yoga mat you'd like to get rid of? Check out these clever recycling tips submitted to Gaiam.