Monday, June 18, 2012

Necessities or Not? It's your choice.

      I started reading the book The Women's Book of Yoga and Health and read over a list of items that were outlined as "what you'll need" to practice yoga and I found it a bit long and drawn out. On this list were the following items:

1) yoga mat (preferably sticky)
2) blankets (wool or cotton are great)
3) bolsters (various shapes for multiple uses)
4) straps (reclining, seated or restorative poses)
5) blocks (helps in many ways to create balance)
6) chair (metal folding chair, but kitchen chairs work too)
7) eye pillows & weighted sandbags (eye bags block light to relax and the sandbags apply pressure to specific areas)

      First and foremost, I don't own half of these items. I have a mat that I have bought for practice, blankets that I use everyday for lying around, table chair, and I use a belt if I think I need a strap. I've never used a bolster, although I can see how it may be beneficial, and I certainly don't have blocks, eye pillows, or weighted sandbags. These items may enhance a yoga practice for some people but I find that I'm too busy searching for where to put them or if I've placed them right and get distracted from my practice.
      A really good sticky (or non-slip) mat is a great tool to have, as well as blankets. Slip-resistant mats help us sweaty palm folks from busting up our faces during down dog, or other positions where hands seem to always slip, and blankets can help enhance a shoulder or headstand tremendously. Extra padding is always nice to have for headstand.
      However, I'm not sure I've ever seen someone use blocks, straps, or chairs in an Ashtanga yoga practice. I'm not saying they can't be used, because they most certainly could be, but the practice is geared towards the body finding that happy medium through practice not adjustments made by other objects.

      The objects listed above are mostly a person to person desire and by no means a definite answer of what you'll need to practice yoga. Some people will only have a mat to practice with and others will go out and buy a full supply of different items to help boost their practice. No one's cup of tea is the same and if you ask five different people, you may well get five different answers. In the end, you should base your answer on your own decisions. Maybe start with just a mat in the beginning and see if maybe you enjoy a practice in that simple way and if not, then by all means go out and buy the things that will help improve your practice for you.
      Yoga is deeply personal and therefore no one can tell you how to formulate your own practice (unless you follow Ashtanga or Bikram Yoga, those are set sequences for the most part). For information on the different types of yoga that is out there for practice, Claudia Altucher has put together a wonderful and informative blog on the different styles. You can read more in-depth about the styles here on her blog.

      I hope you find the style you're looking for and create a practice that is both enjoyable and rewarding to practice.



  1. Hey Brianna! I found your blog through Damn Good Yoga. I am a huge fan of props, and not just for restorative yoga. They are wonderful tools and in my opinion it's definitely worth trying them to see how poses feel. You probably won't use them during your ashtanga practice, but I found that taking time and using props to work on key poses like triangle brought a much better alignment during my ashtanga practice. Also, taking a leaf from my yogi friends who have had babies recently, learning how to use props (like a chair or the wall) can be really helpful as your pregnancy progresses - and your centre of gravity shifts around! Oh, and an eye pillow for Savasana - heavenly!

    1. Hello,

      Thank you for reading my blog :). I guess I've never really given props a chance to help me in any particular area because I've never gone out and bought any. If I needed to make any adjustments I used books (I have plenty of those around) or chairs around the house. Heck, I've even used a twig on a tree to stabilize myself during a pose before. I've always been tempted to buy props but at the moment I have a cluttered space and the extra items would only worsen a bad situation haha.
      While I'm not completely opposed to props I doubt I'll buy any soon or even later. I may make some, provided I have materials to work with. The eye pillow has been one I've wanted though. Mostly because I practice outside and sometimes the light can be glaring right in my face.
      So far, even though I'm 5 months pregnant, I haven't really had to modify poses TOO much. I have to limit my bending and some of the more extreme twists during my Ashtanga practice but thankfully my belly hasn't really began to get that round basketball shape to it yet haha. I will be sad when I truly have to modify or even eliminate poses that I find comfort in. However, I do have two prenatal yoga discs at my disposal for that particular moment.

      Thank you again for visiting my blog and commenting :).

    2. Hey Brianna,

      Home-made props are the best! I did eventually buy yoga blocks (they are just a bit more stable than books!) but I use a dressing gown tie for a strap and sofa pillows for bolsters.

      I've never been pregnant (yet!) but many of my yogi friends who have been pregnant have found 'prenatal' yoga to be totally unsatisfactory, since it seems mostly intended for people who never did yoga before pregnancy. I think the key is to learn which modifications are critical (like avoiding deep twists and compression which can cut off blood flow to the uterus), and to just listen to your body thereafter.

      But don't see it as a sad thing! See it as an opportunity for letting go of attachment (to a particular sequence or a particular pose) and remembering that the journey is really not about WHAT you practice but about HOW you practice. :)

    3. I may get my husband to build my blocks for me. It'll give him something to do. I would love to have a studio built into the house for my yoga practice but I'm fine outside for now. Can't be too picky. As for the prenatal yoga... I've only found one that has really trying poses that make me feel like I'm getting anything out of it. Other than that the other two are easy yoga. I guess that would be good for those days when my body may need a break.