After over 13 years of yoga, I have narrowed down what my favourite tools for my yoga practice are. I have tried many different items and I have tried different types of items but here are my 5 favourites!
1. Yoga Blocks: These are the most important tool to have at any yoga level. Each time you practice your body is in a different place. One day you may be able to touch the floor and the next you can't. Yoga blocks support your practice by bringing the floor up to you. They can be used under your hands or hips or knees to help you soften into a pose or you can use them to support you when trying a new inversion. In my earlier years of practice, I wanted to get to a place where I didn't need to use the block, I was flexible enough that my body could do the pose without the support. I am older and wiser now and realize that my form is so important to support my yoga practice and I use blocks every time I practice now! If you don't have blocks and you would like to experiment with what it would be like, you can use a firm pillow or two.
2. Yoga Strap: A yoga strap is another tool like the blocks that can help you keep good form and can add length to your arms or legs. I love to use the strap especially to stretch my hamstrings, this way the stretch is focused on my hamstring and not on my upper body strength if I were to use my arms. A strap is also a great way to help you work into a bind that you may be working on, it also is a huge help when working on shoulder flexibility. If you don't have a strap at home a scarf works just as well! We often use scarfs at home to help with stretching after mountain biking or running.
3. Bolster: I would say that this is a luxury item. I actually don't have a bolster at home just a really amazing pillow but it is on my Christmas wish list this year! I often use it when I am sitting meditation or if I am doing a yin style class where I will be holding the poses for longer. It again helps bring the floor to you or help adjust your body to be more comfortable. As a side note, it is great to use on under your bum when you are sitting on the floor playing with the kids!
4. Thick Heavy Mat: I invested in a thick, heavy mat about 2 years ago and it has been a game-changer. It doesn't go anywhere. It stays put on the ground and is thick enough to help support my knees when needed. This is the one yoga tool that I would suggest investing in. You will use it every class and if you are constantly thinking about if you are going to slip or not in a pose it will take away from your actual yoga practice. If you can ask around at your studio if there is one you can try then you can decide if it is the mat for you before you invest.
5. Small Quick Drying Towel: This is a new addition for me and I love it. I have used a towel in the past when I attended a hot class but it was the size of my mat and often got bunched up under my feet during standing poses. I purchased a small quick-drying towel that now lives at the top of my mat for every class. It is easy to quickly dry the sweat off my face and it is large enough to go under my back for savasana. It is also less bulky than a regular hand towel. I have seen these in many camping and yoga stores. I highly recommend one!
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I hope that you try out one of these great tools the next time you head to your mat. If you have any more suggestions please leave me a comment! Happy Yogaing!