As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, most of our lives—both professionally and socially—have moved entirely online. Some states are slowly opening up, but many of us still attend our favorite (formerly in-person) yoga classes at home, online.
If this applies to you, maybe you’ve been wondering what to do about props. Especially if you’ve been attending classes that incorporate props on a regular basis, you may fret about not having the right equipment. Maybe this has even stopped you from taking some online classes that are more prop-heavy.
But fear not! As a prop-indulgent yogi, I can attest to the fact that there is no one “right” way to prop. And, now that you are spending so much time at home, you might not have to look too far to find objects that turn out to be some of the best props you’ve ever used—though at first glance, they don’t look at all like props!
The prop suggestions below utilize common household objects. If you are the creative type, they may satisfy your DIY spirit and provide positive mementos of quarantine time. Keep in mind that these suggestions come from what I have found in my home. Your home may offer a different bounty, so be inventive—see what you can find.
As I was cleaning up and organizing (we all may have discovered that our spring cleaning arrived earlier than expected this year), I came upon my “projects” closet. I recently finished painting a bathroom and all of my supplies were in this closet—it was a prop goldmine! My two big takeaways were the paint stick and the roller. The extension pole can be used the way you would use a dowel for balance, traction, and alignment.
And the unused roller (key word: unused) was perfect as a neck roll. It has enough firmness to support the neck, and enough soft cushioning to release the neck into it. If you enjoy foam rolling, you can also use the roller under your palms and your feet for some myofascial release.
Once I finished experimenting with the roller, it got me thinking about what I could put under my knees or back for restorative purposes. All quarantine-related toilet paper jokes aside, I found that unopened, individually wrapped rolls of toilet paper fit perfectly under my knees.
You can roll them up into a towel to create a log effect under your knees (as shown in the image below), but they also work great alone with one under each knee.
If you have trouble placing the rolls individually under your knees, you can string them onto the pole extension for a small toilet paper bolster. You may also like the supportive feeling of one of the rolls under your neck and the base of your skull.
Once I had these smaller props to support me when I reclined, I naturally started thinking of larger props, like bolsters. (Bolsters are an essential relaxation prop so having one at home is a great idea if you are practicing more at home.) Pillows—which include pregnancy pillows, breastfeeding pillows, decorative pillows, couch cushions, and more—can be excellent substitutes for the studio bolster. But if you’re short on pillows or prefer not to use them for your yoga practice, there are other alternatives.
For example, a dear friend gifted me with a few yoga T-shirts and I’ve yet to put them in my closet. As I went to put the bag of clothes away, I thought, “Hmmm, if I stuff this bag even more, I could tie the handles or even staple the edges of the bag together to make a smaller bolster or meditation cushion” (keeping in mind that I’d eventually like to wear those tops!).
You can also roll up towels wrapped in a soft blanket to the same effect. You can use this under your knees, or if dense enough, under your back in supported fish pose.
If you’re seeking a dense, supportive bolster you can make one from a pillowcase:
A simple way to do this is to take at least four large towels, roll them up, and insert them into your pillowcase widthwise (rolled towels are denser and more supportive than cotton or clothes):
Once you finish stuffing the pillowcase you can sew, glue, velcro, pin, or staple the pillowcase shut.
Another fun project is a shoebox block. If you have a shoebox or two, fill them with a combination of whatever you have handy—such as dense toilet paper rolls, folded hand towels, a stack of papers, or books to give your boxes weight.
Make sure the whole box is filled to the top and that there are no spaces where the box might collapse. You want to be sure that when you press your hands into it, it doesn’t cave in.
As a side note: Books can be great blocks all by themselves, but paperback books can slide and possibly rip. (I cherish my books so knowing they can be used but protected is key for me, which is why I prefer to put them in a box, rather than on the floor.)
I often practice with a chair with a rather rough seat (so that I don’t slip). However, chairs with slippery seats are pretty ubiquitous in households. Solving this problem was a priority for me because chairs make such great props. As I was trying to figure it out, I remembered that when I moved into my home, I had put non-slip liners in the cupboards.
I removed one of the cupboard liners and started experimenting. What I found is that they are basically mini sticky mats. They worked brilliantly on the chair seat to provide a non-glide and non-slide experience.
This got me thinking, “Could I use this on all of my homemade props?” Of course! You can wrap liners around anything that may need extra padding, traction, or grip and then seal with either staples or super glue. Wrap your shoebox blocks for extra grip and padding, or use a liner as your mat!
You can also take four liner pieces and place one under each of your hands and feet for downward facing dog. You won’t slide!
Remember, anything can be used as a prop. While you may not have the same item I do, you may find something similar, or even better. Coming up with props on your own is a true lesson in adaptability. Life is constantly changing and we can, if we choose, flow with it—especially when it comes to props.
Photography: Allison Ray Jeraci