As a teacher who instructs more classes per week than I can find time to take as a student, my home practice has become my yoga haven. However, there are many pitfalls that come with a practice where you are the only one to hold yourself accountable, as both teachers and at-home practitioners know.
One pitfall is that after a long day, the last thing you want to do is get on your mat – unless your mat is rolled out on top of your bed and you get to just crawl in and head off to dreamland. This means you might need a more playful way to begin your yoga home practice.
Another pitfall is when you are teaching 10 or so classes per week that are a variety of types and levels. How in the world do you create all those sequences for each class each week? How do you make them satisfying, creative and new for all of your students?
Here I can’t help but think of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy originally finds her home boring — a place that puts a damper on her desire to explore. However, after her journey in Oz, she came to realize that home was exactly where she wanted and needed to be.
The Best Homemade (or home-found) Yoga Props
With a change of perspective, everyday objects around you can transform, and suddenly you will find tons of creative possibilities in your home too. Sometimes the best yoga props are simple household objects… leading to deep practice revelations.
If you are a new student or teacher, and haven’t yet invested in your own props to keep at home, check out these very cheap yoga props. Two large hardcover books become your blocks (as an actress, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare is my go-to). Two to four pillows become your bolsters and sheets/towels your blankets. I gripped kettlebells when I had carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrists so that I could safely practice plank pose. I’ve used a colorful pair of leggings as my strap when needed.
Beyond that, to keep my home practice fresh and inspired over the years I have used blocks (bricks), pillows, blankets, Yoga Therapy Balls (amazing), tennis balls, wiffle balls and baseballs (too hard, but when you’re in a pinch you’re in a pinch), foam rollers, books, tables, chairs, ladders, kettle bells, hand-weights, water bottles, straps, belts, clothing, TheraBands, other humans, multiple yoga mats at once, walls, door handles, and many other random items from my household to support my practice.
I’m pretty sure at one point I was doing Chaturanga push-ups and tricep dips on top of my toilet.
Once you find the objects at home that can support your practice, try different ways to make use of them as you find creative ways to move. Allow your sense of childish playfulness and discovery to help you flow through designing a novel yoga pose sequence based on the objects and surfaces at home.
From beginners to more seasoned yogis, we are capable of much more inspiration and inventiveness than we might at first assume. So step back and use unexpected objects to further your understanding of alignment in poses. Concoct interesting, exciting sequences with safety and individual anatomy at the forefront. Pretty soon you will agree that there, most definitely, is no place like home!
Great ideas. Really force your mind to get creative and use what tools and equipments we already have at home that we didn’t think of before that can be useful in our own practice. And that is a fun and playful way of moving our body with all these props in our own inventive way.
One of my favorite reasons in doing yoga is no limitation of space. Your article truly helps me a lot and encourage me to think creatively and find my own props at home.
This is a great reference to bring to students who may not feel they are ready to commit to buying props for at-home use, financially able, or just want to expand their practice to their home with new tools! It’s great to constantly be changing up the way we practice and adding in new ways of using things we already have at our disposal, hello minimalism! Even while travelling, simply having a scarf and a few books can replace straps and blocks so everything we bring is multi-use.
Amazing article! Truly no excuses for those of us who are looking for excuses not to do anything. You don’t need to wait for something, you already have everything you need! Just be open-minded and creative!
thanks for these ideas.. i teach at some non-traditional spaces and will look with new eyes for found objects that i can incorporate into practice
Very creative with the at-home props. I’ve def used books in place of blocks before. Not sure if I’ll ever use the toilet as a prop though. You’re def braver than I am.
Wonderful to see that not having the rights props should not stop us. I travel a lot and in the past found excuses when not equipped with the right props. We can turn any situation, room, place into a place of introspection and use simple local attributes as aids in our practice. Just because the official props are not available should not stop us from practicing.
Haha, I never thought of using yoga pants as straps, that”s perfect! Thanks also for the suggestion kettlebells in case of wrist injury. As for me I like to use our height-ajustable stool in the kitchen and also kitchen counter-tops which height I feel is ideal for some pecs & shoulder stretches…
Thanks for pointing out all the everyday objects around us that can be used to enhance our practice. It’s especially helpful to be creative when on the road!
I try to stage my “practice zone” before I leave for the day. The zone is right by my front door so when I come home I literally have to pass through my collection of purchased and improvised props upon entry…there is no getting around it. Oh! duct tape around a thick couple of books makes for a pretty killer block situation…and they are super stable. 🙂
Wow – light bulb moment! I love all the playful ways you use your surroundings. When you open your mind and know where you want to go, anything is possible. And, I just bought kettle bells for my students with wrist issues 🙂
I enjoyed this blog post because you reminded us that yoga can be accessible for everyone, regardless of where you practice or what you practice with (or how much money you have). It also showcases yet another way for teachers to allow our creative and playful nature to shine.
My cats make excellent props — I’m sure they’re only on my mat to make sure I don’t dip my shoulders too low in chaturanga…
I love that this makes it okay for students to get creative and think outside of the box. Great ideas for props at home. Practice everywhere with everything!
Thank you for this inspiring blogpost! After my YTU teachtraining a try to find much more variety in the asanas, using more creative all the things around me as props seems to me a great way to do this.
Another tip I learned in YTU level 1 is to not be afraid of moving outside your yoga mat. Not to restrain yourself on a small rectangle. Moving directly on the ground around a room or even outside will connect you directly to your creativity. Also changing the orientation of a pose will also challenge your imagination. Thanks Mimi!
Yvonne, your post is a great refresher on the power of simplicity. As a big “prop girl”, I usually invite my students to collect a fairly large number of them before starting the practice. What can I say, I love having them handy just in case we need them! However, I understand that this habit may create the impression that no yoga practice can be done without the standard props. I will try to translate those props into their homemade versions and give a few examples to my students in future classes. As for me, I’m already thinking about what forgotten object in my house deserves a yoga prop revival!