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A guide to yoga props

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 - including links for easy purchase - which may be beneficial anytime (including in pregnancy and postpartum).

Basic props

Yoga Mat Set

7-piece yoga mat set (~$90) is a cost-effective way and less overwhelming way to get started. This is the whole kit and caboodle! An essential one-stop-shop for any yogi or yogini. This set includes a yoga mat, yoga bag/carrier, two foam blocks, strap, eye pillow, and even yoga cards!

Yoga Mat

A good yoga mat can make all the difference in your practice. I use the Manduka Prolite mat. It is thicker than a standard yoga mat, stays sticky, and is easy to clean.

Foam Yoga Blocks

Four inch foam blocks are where it's at. They're light to travel to and from the studio, and if you happen to drop one while practicing - it won't hurt. I recommend Gaiam's set of two blocks (~$16). (Two is better than one.)

Blankets

Start with at least 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. El Paso Designs makes beautiful Mexican blankets (~$18) which you will use time after time - and can take to the beach, camping, or keep in the back of your car in case of an emergency.

Thick Bolster

Often over-looked and under-utilized in general yoga classes, but in prenatal and postnatal yoga - we use the bolster A LOT. Yoga Accessories' bolsters (~$32) are thick and come in a variety of colors. Pick your favorite!

Yoga Strap

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. I love this Lotuscrafts yoga strap (~$7) as it is 100% organic and an ideal length of 8' for most bodies. I'm 5'5" and have a 10' strap... which is wayyyyy to long. 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. This lightweight

Eye Pillow

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. Nolava Designs Store makes a lovely lavender eye pillow including a travel case! Bring to your next yoga class and I bet you will feel even more rejuvenated. 

Yoga Wheel

Some find a yoga wheel as a welcomed relief to back pain, while others enjoy the assistance to make back-bending more achievable. Choosing a size to start with is easy with UpCircleSeven Yoga's wheel set of three (~$91), or purchase the standard size wheel (~$37).

Meditation Cushion

Filled with buckwheat, this meditation cushion from DreamTime (~$25) is suitable for all bodies and allows the purchaser to add or remove buckwheat as needed.

Headstand Bench

The FeetUp Trainer (~$150) is a highly popular in the yoga community due to it's high quality and bonuses - 100+ asanas and manual. A more economical option is the Murtisol Yoga Headstand Bench priced at ~$59).  Both are helpful for any yogi, especially a beginner, to build awareness and strength to be more comfortable upside-down. 

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I’ve participated in Sweet Momma Yoga during both of my pregnancies and have benefited each time. Even on days when I feel tired and just wanted to put my feet up, I always felt better after class knowing that I am taking the best care of myself and my baby. Elise does an amazing job of making all of the moms feel welcome and comfortable no matter what previous yoga experience they’ve had. I got more out of Sweet Momma Yoga than I ever expected, benefiting both my pregnancy and birthing experiences. I would recommend them to any expecting momma! - Deidre L.
Sweet Momma Yoga got me out of my new-mom shell with Mama + Baby yoga! It combined a part of myself that I already loved and was comfortable with, with a completely new territory of being a mom on maternity leave during a Michigan winter. The bonding experience with my son is one I will never forget, and I was also able to take care of myself and my needs, which was the first opportunity I had to learn about balance in my new role as momma! I am so grateful for Elise’s compassion and casual nature. She put me at ease during a time in my life when I needed it most! - Kelli S.