Yoga Prop Hacks

Yoga Prop Hacks

Official Yoga Props Aren't Necessary. Rick Hyman/E+/Getty Images

Yoga props can be a great benefit to beginning yoga students. A block lifts the floor closer to your reaching fingers in forward bends. A blanket raises your hips above your knees for a more comfortable seat. A strap acts as an arm extender so you can connect with those faraway toes. The judicious use of props makes any number of poses more accessible while improving your alignment for a safer practice. The trouble is, most beginners don't have all the necessary yoga props lying around their houses, nor do they want to go out and buy a bunch of yoga stuff. Enter the yoga prop hack. Yes, you can make serviceable yoga props out of everyday items that you undoubtedly already have. Here's how.

Hack a Yoga Block

Use a Book as a Yoga Block. Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

A nice, thick book makes the best substitute for a yoga block. A dictionary or encyclopedia is going to work best. You can depend on it for a solid foundation under your hand in poses like triangle and half moon. You can even sit on it for sukasana if you like. If you have children, a bathroom sink step-stool also works really well. Storage containers for toys like Legos are another option. Even a cardboard shoe box or large Tupperware container can be used in a pinch. It's a good idea to weigh these down with something heavy like dried beans to give them more stability. 

Hack a Yoga Strap

Use a Belt as a Yoga Strap. Gilbert Laurie/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

A belt makes a pretty straightforward hack for a yoga strap. A towel will also work. A strap is really handy when you are trying to stretch your hamstrings in poses like supta padangusthasana and paschimottanasana. It can also help you with poses where there is an option to bind the arms. If you cannot reach the full bind in poses like bound side angle and cow face pose, using a strap between your hands helps you get the benefits of the bind without sacrificing your alignment.

Hack a Yoga Blanket

Use Blanket for Yoga. Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

This isn't even really a hack since a yoga blanket is pretty much a blanket. Try to pick something with some substance to it so you will get good support. Several folded blankets can also take the place of a bolster.  A blanket comes in handy when you need to raise your hips to make sitting cross-legged more comfortable. It can also be used to cushion the knees in kneeling postures like camel pose or to pad the hips in prone positions like bow pose and pigeon. Stack a few folded blankets as a substitute for a bolster under your spine in reclined positions like goddess and supta virasana.

Hack a Yoga Mat

Use the Bare Floor if You Don't Have a Yoga Mat. ZenShui/Sigrid Olsson/Photo Alto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images

The best hack for a yoga mat is no hack at all. The bare floor, whether carpeted or hard surface, is the way to go. The main thing is that you don't want to slip around. Some people actually prefer practicing without a mat anyway, the sticky mats to which we are accustomed being a fairly recent invention. The earliest western yoga mats were hacks themselves, as they were made from carpet liners. I don't think that's necessary, though. The floor will work just fine.

Hack a Wall for Yoga

Use a Friend as Your Wall. Tim Kitchen/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Don't have a wall handy? Grab some friends, because the best hack for a wall to use for inversions like headstand and handstand is another human being or two. If you can get a few people together, have your friends take an acrobat's grip around each others' forearms as they stand on either side of you. Their forearms become your wall. If you're going to kick up with just one person to catch you, make sure not to kick them in the face by coming up slow and steady.

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