Whatever your reasons for doing yoga, owning some yoga props can be a game-changer in your practice. These accessories exist to assist you in reaching certain poses without compromising your alignment or to provide comfort as you flow throughout the class. That said, there are many props sold in the market, so it can be confusing to distinguish the must-haves from the nice-to-haves.
Since a lot of us have transitioned to doing yoga at home, I’d like to share the yoga props that help me get the most out of my practice, as well as where to buy them locally. I’ve also segregated them into two sections: essentials and optional. Let’s get started!
Yoga Props Essentials:
Mat + Cleaner
Can you do yoga without a mat? Honestly, you probably can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Your mat is your sacred space during class, and often teachers will refer to it when they cue (e.g., knees mat-width apart, step towards the tops of your mats, etc.). More importantly, a mat protects your elbow and knee joints, which could get hurt on hardwood floors or slip and burn on carpets. If you have sweaty palms, a grippy mat will save you from sliding on your downward dog. If you’re looking to invest, I wrote a list of high-quality yoga mats in the Philippines that you can choose from.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to use a mat cleaner, too. You’d need to disinfect your mat regularly since you’ll sweat on it a lot. There are many D.I.Y. recipes you can find online, but you can also buy from local stores. I personally swear by the Lavender & Rosemary Plant-based Yoga Mat Spray by Sparrow Fragrances.
You might be thinking, “Are yoga blocks necessary?” Regardless of your skill level, you will need them at some point. Blocks are helpful for when you can’t reach the ground during certain poses. For instance, I use a block when getting into half moon (ardha chandrasana) to maintain the integrity of the posture’s alignment.
But even if you’re super flexible, you’ll still benefit from a block. You can line it up against your spine and lie down for a gentle backbend, or use it as an extension of your legs to get an even deeper stretch during a seated forward fold (paschimottanasana). It’s a good idea to have a pair vs. just one. You can improvise at home by using empty boxes, stacks of books, or a small stool.
Much like blocks, straps should be part of your yoga props arsenal. Because my hamstrings are so tight, I primarily use this to stretch them out. It becomes an extension of my arms, and I don’t have to sacrifice my alignment or pull a muscle from trying too hard. With enough practice, you might not need straps regularly, but they can help augment your yoga experience during classes that use them (e.g., Yin, Restorative, Iyengar, etc.). Plenty styles of yoga use straps though, so don’t think it’s just limited to a particular class.
Bolsters are excellent for restorative classes, but they’re also great for adding a cushion to your joints when they hurt during some poses. For instance, some people find kneeling on their mats to be painful. Maybe their mat is too thin, or they just need some extra love for that area. A thin bolster can help support you and make the class all the more comfortable and doable.
I also use bolsters when I do gentle yoga sessions during my period. There are many online yoga classes to manage menstrual cramps, and they always soothe me when I get dysmenorrhea. I don’t have studio-type bolsters at home; instead, I use my throw pillows (or similar) and they work like a charm!
Optional Yoga Props:
If you already have a mat but it’s not as sticky as you like, or your mat has an open-cell structure that you don’t want to sweat profusely on, it may do you good to invest in a mat-size yoga towel. You basically have to put this over your entire mat so it catches your sweat and gives you more grip.
If you frequent a lot of studios, you might already have one of these. That way, you can use studio mats and just add a towel for extra hygiene or grip. I purchased mine from Sora, and this is what I used during my YTT in Bali. I liked that it’s sand-resistant since I used it as a beach towel after some class days, too.
Yoga wheels are fun props you can use to add an extra challenge to your practice. You might’ve seen yogis use this primarily for backbends, but it can be applied to so many more poses. Besides aiding in spinal flexibility and mobility, you can add this prop to take your core work or leg strengthening poses up a notch. Trust me; you’ll be able to feel the difference—and the burn!
You can get imported yoga wheels from Lazada or Shopee, or from the local brand Towelite. One famous brand is the Dharma Yoga Wheel, but you don’t necessarily have to get that. Read reviews and practice discernment!
Aromatherapy and Scents
While not technically a “prop,” you can take your practice one step further by diffusing some calming or energizing essential oils in your space before class or rubbing soothing balm on your nape, forehead, and shoulders. It adds a bit of aromatherapy during your workout, which I’m a fan of—nothing beats the smell of goodness and positivity in a room while you flow. You can go for scented candles too if that’s your thing.
There is an overwhelming number of stores to get EOs from, so I’ll only suggest the top brands I know in the Philippines: Young Living Essential Oils and doTERRA. There are also local stores that sell balms and candles like Kalma by Jinky, 23rd Street Candle Co., and YogaLove to name a few.
Practice and All is Coming
Just by getting any of the yoga props listed here, you’ll surely experience a difference in your practice. Remember: It’s up to you which ones you want to get, so don’t forget to review your needs before hitting the checkout counter. Namaste!