Think about what you usually pack in your bag for a yoga class: Mat, towel and water bottle; cute and flattering sweat gear, with a matching face towel, perhaps; possibly a deodorant stick and change of clothes if you’re heading somewhere after…
But what if you could throw in one extra ingredient to enhance your practice and movements exponentially? Behold, the best yoga accessories to add to your yoga routine.
Related: 5 Basic Yoga Poses For Beginners
Yes, you can play with any of the following yoga props on your mat to spice up your yoga routine. Experiment with the combinations and use liberally!
Add two bouillon-coloured cork blocks to dial up the possibilities in your yoga stew. All you have to do is give it a good squeeze between your thighs or open palms in your standing poses to add some juice to your inner thighs and chest.
Squeeze the block behind your back for a good wakening in your posterior chain of muscles. Alternatively, toss the block anywhere under your body (hands, feet, hips — you name it!) to bring the floor up to you in any posture — results may vary, from extra support to muy caliente.
Substitutes: Your water bottle, hardcover books (encyclopedias, university textbooks, Harry Potter books 4 through 7, etc.)
Stretch out your (pro)portions by throwing a strap into the mix. Lengthen your arms in any pose by looping between your hands and a foot, knee, hamstrings, shins, block… Whatever you can find. Looping them around your thighs, ankles or upper arms can help strengthen or relax depending on how you use them in your asanas. Pull on one between your hands or feet to say hello to your abductors.
Substitutes: Yoga mat strap (a lot of these are two-in-ones nowadays), belts, ties, scarves
Don’t forget to tenderize your muscles first with a bit of self-massage. Play with different sizes, levels of pressure and rolling techniques (hint: I personally know seven ways!) to achieve the desired consistency and firmness. One to three minutes contracts the muscles more efficiently; any longer than that, and the tough bits will soften (“Just like butter,” as my RMT says).
Substitutes: tennis balls, lacrosse balls, large bouncy balls from Walmart
These are your fillers, the juicy parts, of your three-course yoga class. Add generously as you cool down in your reclining series to relax your muscles and chill your nervous system; place under your knees, behind your back, or lie on it lengthwise and enjoy the gooey oohs and aahs to come. Bonus BYOB (build-your-own-bed) tip: If you ever get trapped in a yoga studio over night, bolsters/blanket make a great single bed in a pinch.
Substitutes: Pillows, rolled up towels
Ahhhh… The cherry on top of the decadent yoga-cake. Sprinkle these in just before you get settled in your Savasana, and prepare for your one-way trip to nirvāna (no, not the band…). When placed on your eyelids, wrists, ankles or hips, the added weight can help ground your body so your mind can float like a soufflé. Throw in a dash lavender to enjoy the hint of aromatherapy on your senses.
Substitutes: Face towel over the eyes, bag of rice or mung beans