This year, the pandemic forced the closure of gyms and exercise studios all around the country, and workout enthusiasts were forced to embrace sweating from home. Some regular gymgoers took the time to embrace yoga at home and vowed to carve out a practice space.
While yoga doesn’t have a high barrier to entry, some equipment is required. However, doing Vinyasa flows in your living room doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy a bunch of fancy props.
“American culture says in order to do something you have to buy stuff,” says Annie Melchior, an Iyengar-certified yoga teacher and director of the yoga program in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s dance department.
“There are things you can grab right around your home that are actually more conducive. This is another mantra of the pandemic: Look around and see what you already have, and be grateful for it.”
Yoga is all about customizing to you—and purchasing products made for the masses might not suit you. Before placing an order on Amazon, try sourcing the following yoga props from your home.
No mat, no problem
“If you don’t have a sticky mat, just find a floor surface that will support you,” says Melchior. Hardwood floors are ideal because your feet stick, as opposed to slipping.
“Carpeting can sometimes be slick,” she says. Push aside your area rug and start your asanas.
When you don’t have yoga blocks, try…
… a stack of books
While store-bought yoga blocks come in only one height and width, a stack of books can be customized to your liking. Just be sure to reach for hardbacks, not paperbacks, so you don’t strain your neck, shoulders, or wrist while in triangle pose.
“Tie them together or secure rubber bands around them to ensure stability,” says Amanda Webster, a certified yoga teacher with clients in Los Angeles and New York City.
… jars from the pantry
Along those lines, Tracy Hayes, who taught yoga over Zoom to Major League Baseball players (including the Baltimore Orioles) this year, likes using jars of coconut oil, peanut butter, or spaghetti sauce as yoga blocks.
“A sturdier jar can be used in balancing poses like half-moon or for some thoracic mobility in a lunge twist,” says Hayes.
… small cardboard boxes
And don’t recycle all of your cardboard boxes just yet.
“The smaller ones work really well as blocks,” says Hayes. “Just remember to retape the box closed so it doesn’t collapse on you. These are great for placing between the knees to help stabilize the hips and pelvis for engaging the adductors in deep-core work.”
When you don’t have bolsters, try…
… towels or blankets
Meditation and yoga practices sometimes require the use of bolsters, which are firm, rectangular pillows that support your body while you hold poses.
“You can make a bolster out of rolled-up blankets,” says Melchior. “If you don’t have blankets, use towels. They are very pliable, and you can fold them.”
To keep them from losing their shape, secure the ends and the center with rubber bands or hair ties.
… cushions and pillows
“Couch pillows stacked on top of each other make a great bolster,” says physical therapist and Iyengar instructor Danielle Berres, who created her own line of yoga props sold online and in St. Paul, MN.
You can also use a few throw pillows to support your body.
“Pillows are great if you’re in a seated forward fold and have any lower back issues, because sitting on a pillow tilts your pelvis forward in a safer position,” says Emma Sothern, a Vinyasa teacher in Hoi An, Vietnam.
“You can also use them under one hip in pigeon pose to keep your hips level, or between your knees in supine twist to fully relax. I really like using a pillow under the knees in savasana (final relaxation pose) to ease tension in my back.”
When you don’t have yoga straps, try…
… belts or scarves
Yoga straps typically made of woven canvas or nylon are used to deepen a stretch and get a fuller range of motion. Make your own yoga strap with a removable belt from a bathrobe or a long scarf, says Melchior. Just make sure the material you use is durable enough not to rip.
… electronics chargers
“Not everyone has a necktie or scarf lying around, but nowadays everyone—even my grandmother—has a phone or laptop charging cord lying around,” says Hayes.
“The charging cord can be used to give the legs a bit of a stretch while lying on your back by hooking the cord around your foot to gently support the stretch of your leg in the air,” she says.
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