Updated: Jan 21
Its that time of year where we can enjoy a little self care treat or share the yoga love by investing in a wonderful gift for someone else. Yoga mats and props aren't the be all and end all of our practice, we can practice anywhere with out a mat and if you look around the room I'm sure you have lots of helpful things that could be used as a prop! BUT I will say that they are super helpful, great to throw in your bag to bring to studio, hygienic and they are yours to enjoy! There are many yoga props on the market, varying in size, colour, shape, fabric, price and brand. Im sharing a few that I know of and can recommend, but as always, with our own experience we find what we like! If you have any recommendations please feel free to share them in the comments!
These are great websites and there are many out there! If you're looking for Christmas gifts etc you mind find something that you like, Ive just fell in love with the combo, Atlas mat with circles on below, if anyone wants to hint at Will to buy it me Id be so grateful haha!!
TRAVEL YOGA MAT
Travel yoga mats are great for... travelling! They roll up super small and can even be folded. The mat I bring along to classes is a travel mat, the top layer is soft so great if you get sweaty hands and feet but is soft enough to not get stuck on it (I mention a 'sticky' mat below). One thing I will mention is, they are thin. I think mine is 1.6mm, so if your knees need support these mats might not be the best, but remember you can always fold an edge over, double it up or even put another mat underneath. Great lightweight and easy to carry around.
THE BEST MAT AROUND
This may be the best mat around, in my opinion, I had one for years and actually wore it out! I still have one (Will has one too) and practice on it at home, I use my black (yoga design lab, from above) mat for travelling and teaching with and actually prefer it to the Liforme one, no idea why! Liforme mats are big, thick, heavy and 'sticky'. They aren't actually sticky but because of the top layer of rubber your feet wont sink, slide or quite literally move anywhere when you are in a pose! Have you felt your feet slide apart in warrior two? You're in lunge but slowly sinking towards the splits?! This wont happen on this mat but you might notice jumping through is a problem and stubbing toes is the result. Sticky mat has its benefits and so do slippy ones! These mats have lines to help with alignment and truly are an investment. Worth the money? Absolutely. One little note, they are heavy... but I suppose its just an extra way to build strength ;)
Now if there is one piece of equipment I would recommend any one gets for their yoga practice it would be blocks, not one but two, the same size and shape. They are AMAZING. Ive shared a link to amazon but you can find them on the sites above, the pictures are self explanatory for size and material. Foam is soft, cork is hard etc! They can be used in every single pose and I really would recommend in investing your time in becoming friends with them, I have used them for years and still do. They offer support in poses that feel too intense, they can take the edge away from an uncomfortable sensation, they can create height in lunges, down dog, they can 'lengthen arms' for arm balances! There really are SO many fun things to do with them.
BOLSTERS Probably my favourite prop of all, the bolster! A firm cylindrical pillow that can support body weight but also mould to the shape of the body. Bolsters are great for Yin or Restorative yoga practices where we stay in a posture for a long period of time, the bigger the prop/s the better! We can drape and soften the body over this prop and really get the most out of its support. Blocks create height in poses and bolsters allow us to soften closer to the ground, they also have the ability to take stress off the bones. The muscles engage to move the bones within the body and as we support the bones in the body, the muscles relax, as do the bones = a very happy relaxed body that requires no force or effort. I'll add Yin is an incredible practice that you need to try if you haven't, ultimate relaxation!
Not only are blocks and bolsters wonderful aids in our practice so are straps, they are helpful in 'getting the foot' in tricky balances and are amazing for releasing the shoulders. We can also create a loop with them to wrap around the arms or legs to help us with strength work within practice, if you're unsure what I mean have a look see at the blog post below!
PILATES BALL Don't they look wonderful, how can something so small and squishy be so misleading. Pilates balls, you may have used one, you may not but they are an absolute GAME CHANGER for your strength, posture, body awareness and control in practice.
When using a ball in practice it takes the mind out of what we are doing and we feel what the body is doing. They allow us to move with even more precision, grace (not necessarily ease), by slowing our movements down we can create more strength and stability which will create a more efficient practice.
Rather than the loop bands we see all over the internet these days these Thera bands are open, long bands of rubber that come in different colours and densities, I would recommend the red, this is what we will be using in classes in the new year! They can be tied into a loop but are great for working the arms and legs in so many wonderful ways, as mentioned above we will be using these in our Pilates classes and you wont regret investing in one! https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0104FSFHA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_jU5YEbHQYSG70?fbclid=IwAR1EByZAduGRA1D4GWufeaPORUas2lp5tEyW1ij3RVvEGJsn_yiR6ffmYEk