A yoga mat is probably the first tool many people think of. Yoga mats are sticky, and help your hands and feet grip, so they are not slipping everywhere. If you already have a yoga mat, and you find yourself slipping all over the place, there is a tool for that as well! See #5.
Yoga mats also act as a guide with positioning your body within a pose. For example, you may hear a yoga teacher say something like ‘turn your back foot your toes are facing the front right corner of your mat’ for Warrior I.
Yoga mats provide cushion, especially for your knees and ankles. If you need more, #5 is super helpful!
Yoga mats create a sacred space for your practice. Your mat holds all of the energy you put into it, so you may find that you really build a relationship with your own personal mat over time.
Blocks are super helpful for warm ups and modifications. Don’t feel bad about using blocks! Sometimes they just feel so good to use. Let there be no shame in your block game!
Blocks can help prevent injury by creating boundaries for your body. For example, you can bring your head to a block in Pigeon, instead of bringing it all the way to the floor…bring the floor closer to you!
You can even use yoga blocks to allow yourself to go deeper into a pose. For example, having a block under your shoulder blades when practicing Fish Pose.
Blocks are a wonderful thing to bring your hands to if you have tight hamstrings, a tight lower back, or stiff hips in things like Forward Fold, Triangle, Half Moon, or more.
Blocks help you feel stable and secure.
A strap can be used to go deeper into a pose. I love using a strap when laying down, to guide my leg up vertically. It helps stretch calves and hamstrings, and increases flexibility.
Teacher often use straps when assisting their students. A great way to help assist students in Down Dog is to wrap a strap around the students legs, so that you can guide their hips up and back, really allowing them to get out of their mind and into their body.
You can use a strap to open up your shoulders, by grabbing it with both hands and creating resistance. One of my favorites is take your arms in a V shape above head, holding the strap with both hands, and making a forward and back motion (from in front of you, to behind you).
A blanket is great support for your ankles, knees, shoulders, or head. It can also bring the floor closer to you, allowing you to relax into certain poses.
In Sukasana (criss-cross apple sauce) a blanket is great support for your ankles. If you have sensitive ankles, trying placing a blanket underneath them!
A blanket can also help cushion your knees in thing like table table – or any pose that stems from tabletop. You also want to make sure you’re being as easy as possible on your knees, so if a blanket is available, take advantage of it!
A folded blanket can even help you get into a pose safely, and also allow you to relax within a pose. For example, Pigeon Pose is a super deep hip opener, and a blanket can allow you to find Sukha (ease) with a pose, while still getting all of the great benefits!
5. Slip Resist Towel
A slip resistance towel changed my life! TMI, but I have extremely sweaty extremities, and I found my slipping all over the mat. My yoga teacher gave me a slip resistance towel one day, I was shocked I had never seen or heard of one before.
Specific yoga towel have little grippy’s on the bottom, so that the towel doesn’t slip all over the mat…while at the same time keeping you from slipping all over the mat! It is seriously genius.
They are perfectly designed to fit over your yoga mat and are easy to clean.
If you find your hands a feet sliding away from each other in Down Dog, Warrior II, or any other pose…this could really change your practice!
Jellies can also help with the non-slip aspect for your hands.
In addition, they are a great support for your wrists and knees. If you have Carpal Tunnel, or any wrist sensitivity, I highly recommend Hand Jellies to cushion your wrists. If you have sensitive knees, these could be a lifesaver!
There is a lot of wrist work in Yoga from Table Top (also knees), to Chattaranga, to Crow, to Handstand.
Overtime, over using your wrists can start to cause degeneration. Hand Jellies can help lower the impact.
7. Eye Pillow
Eye pillows are often filled with beans, lentils, flaxseeds, rice, buckwheat, and other kind of dry pantry items. In addition, you can add dry herbs like lavender or chamomile.
You buy eye pillows at the store, or make them yourself!
If you don’t have any dry herbs, or your eye pillows lose their scent, you can always add a couple drops of essential oils.
Eye pillows allow you to relax, especially in Shavasana. The weight of the eye pillow is very grounding, and allows you to settle in and dive deeper into your intellect. Just placing a eye pillow over your eyes can help get you in a state of deep relaxation.
Sandbags are also very grounding. The weight upon your body helps you feel a sense of security and can allow you to really let go of what is happening on the outside world. Sandbags can help you connect to your inner being.
I love having a sandbag over my belly during Shavasana, and sometimes over my shoulders are well.
Sandbags are also great to lay on top of your feet while preforming ‘legs up the wall.’
Another favorite of mine is laying a sandbag on my back while in Child’s Pose. It really helps relieve pressure in my low back.
There are so many ways you can use them. If you’ve never tried using a sandbag before, and find yourself struggling to settle into Shavasana or mediation, I highly recommend exploring the options.
A bolster is awesome for opening and relaxing. Bolsters are about torso length, and a little firmer than a pillow.
You can have your body aligned on a bolster, while your head drops to meet the floor or a blanket. This is a great back bend to settle into. It also opens up your throat, chest, lungs, and belly so that you can really breath deep into all areas of your body,
You can also scooch down so that your head and torso are on the bolster, but your hips and bottom are off. This is a great place to relieve lower back pain.
Child’s pose is another one of my favorite poses to use a bolster in. Placing a bolster underneath your can help you relax into the pose.
Bolsters are often used in Yin Yoga, where you hold a pose for an extended period of time.
10. Yoga Wheel
A yoga wheel is the new hot thing.
You can use a yoga wheel in place of like a foam roller, to help relieve back pain and find massage your muscles.
Yoga wheels are great for practicing back bends. They can help guide you into a pose like Wheel, while giving you a barrier. They also help prevent injury, as they provide support and prevents you from crashing down.
You can even use a yoga wheel to help guide you into a split, giving yourself just a little extra space.
Some teachers teach entire classes on a chair.
Chair yoga is extremely helpful for people that have leg immobility or a leg injury.
From a chair, you can strengthen and stretch your body.
Bringing your arms above head, and then dropping them by your side, and repeating can help with shoulder pain and increase heart rate. Even if you can’t walk, cardio is still an option! Dynamic movements extremely beneficial.
You can fold forward in chair, reaching for your toes. This still gives you all the great benefits of a regular forward bend, but makes it accessible for more people to practice.
You can use a chair as a barrier for things like Warrior II, and you can even do twists and hip openers.
A wall is a great yoga tool.
Extending your legs up the wall has many amazing benefits. It helps aid in digestion and can help alleviate an upset stomach. It helps with menstrual cramps, and overall women’s reproductive health. It helps men in this area as well. Extending your legs up the wall lengthens your spine, and stretches your legs. It also helps reduce any swelling in the legs or feet, while promoting good circulatory health.
You can use a wall to help you balance within a pose, such as Dancer, Tree, or even any of the Warrior Poses.
To help with form, a wall is a great place to stabilize. You can even use blocks against the wall to create barriers for your feet or knees.
13. Essential Oils
Essential oils are often offered in a yoga class, but not always. It is tricky to bring them into a class sometimes, because some people are very sensitive to scents.
Essentials oils can help uplift, energize, calm, or relax. I recommend to find ones you like, and use them in your own home practice for sure!
You can mix them with a carrier oil and dab them on your wrist or 3rd eye.
Putting a few drops of your favorite essential oil into a diffuser can really set the tone for you practice.
Another common way to bring essential oils into a yoga practice is through eye pillows, like I mentioned earlier. (:
Leggings ARE pants!
What is a yoga practice without leggings? Leggings prevent you from chafing, hold in all of your goods, and are SO comfy. At least a good pair of leggings hit all of this criteria!
Leggings range from $10 to $100+ dollars. I recently bought a $15 pair that are magical. Not only are they SUPER soft, supportive, and not too tight…they have POCKETS. Remind me why all of my leggings don’t have pockets? This is GENIUS.
Yoga and leggings go together like peanut butter and jelly! You can’t have one without the other. 🙂