by Elise Bowerman
Meeting yourself where you are at is the heart of yoga.
Because of being inundated with images of what I like to call, 'athlete yogi's', it can feel as if yoga is not for you. Since you are not in the exact same physical alignment as these athletes then you cannot and are not practicing yoga. Which could not be further from the truth.
Likewise, when you hear profound experiences of meditation and mindfulness practices this can also lead to the belief of the inability to practice yoga. Again, which cannot be further from the truth.
The honest to goodness truth about the yoga practice is that it is a practice. Everyone's practice is unique to their life experiences and personal resolve.
When we honor this place of personal practice - even within a group setting - an ideal environment will have props available to provide support for our unique story.
Props can build self-esteem and actually create more space (physical and mental) to stay in the moment of whatever is going on within the practice to provide improved balance in the effort and ease (push and yield) concept.
Investing in props may take time. They also make great gifts! Pick and choose what sounds like you can benefit from most. Add on over time as you gain familiarity within your personal practice.
Below are my top recommendations which may be beneficial anytime (including in pregnancy and postpartum).
A good yoga mat can make all the difference in your practice. With a variety of mat textures and thicknesses available explore what will be best for your personal expereince.
Foam Yoga Blocks
Four inch foam blocks are where it's at for many. They are light to travel to and from the studio, and if you happen to drop one while practicing - it won't hurt. (Two is better than one.)
Start with at least one-two firm blankets to either embrace the weight as a comfort measure or feel steady when seated on top of folded blankets. A popular choice in yoga studios are Mexican blankets, which are used time after time - and can be brought to the beach, camping, or keep in the back of the car in case of an emergency.
Often over-looked and under-utilized in general yoga classes, but in prenatal and postnatal yoga - we use the bolster A LOT. A thick, wide rectangle or cylinder shape are popular picks.
Yoga straps are helpful when our arms don't seem long enough, or we are feeling tight to make a posture or movement more comfortable and accessible, or to invite a different perspective to the practice. An ideal length of 8' for most bodies. If you're closer to 6' then consider using a 10' strap.
Extra goodies to make your practice even better
Yoga Mat Carrier
You have to have an easy way to carry your yoga mat from studio to home. Some carriers have space for props, too!
This will make all the difference in savasana or restorative practices. Plus, use it after a long day to get relief from working so hard. Bring to your next yoga class and I bet you will feel even more rejuvenated.
Some find a yoga wheel as a welcomed relief to back pain, while others enjoy the assistance to make back-bending more achievable. This will likely be used more at home.
Rather than sitting on a blanket or floor, a cushion filled with buckwheat or something else can provide stability and comfort in extended seating practices.
Helpful for any yogi, especially a beginner, to build awareness and strength to be more comfortable upside-down.