One of the defining features of Iyengar yoga is its use of props and supports in order to allow students to perform poses safely and productively within their present abilities. Props also allow students to experience aspects of the poses that may otherwise be beyond their present understanding or abilities. They are not remedial aids, they are lifelong learning companions.
I used to pride myself in being able to provide a substantial amount of equipment in classes. However, during the pandemic this is not possible. So instead, I must ask students, where possible to provide their own props. So lets talk requirements and options.
This is a long post, if you don’t want to read any further the short answer is please bring: 1 safe yoga mat, 1 blanket, 1 yoga belt, 2 yoga bricks and 4 yoga blocks. Below you’ll find out all about substitutes, priorities, and exactly what makes things suitable or unsuitable, especially important if you’re considering investing your hard earned money or searching your house for free-of-charge substitutes.
The only ESSENTIAL item you MUST provide is a safe yoga mat. A safe mat is one that is long enough for you to lie down on full length (unless you are exceptionally tall) and that also has barefoot grip. Camping mats and other exercise mats designed to cushion floor work are not safe for all yoga uses due to their movement and lack of sufficient grip. Even though some of these thick squishy mats are labelled yoga mats, they are NOT suitable as your only mat. You can browse suitable mats on www.yogamatters.com to understand what I mean. However mats are available from many different suppliers and you can certainly begin with a mat costing under £10 like this one on Amazon [affiliate link]
Next, you probably already have a neatly foldable blanket or large towel at home already. Please bring that to class because there are hundreds of ways it can enhance your practice. You can get specific ‘yoga’ blankets like this and they are great, I have several at home, but they don’t need to be top of your shopping list. Below is my list – in order of priority – of what to invest in and bring to class:
1 yoga belt with an adjustable metal buckle like this (and if you’re taller than 5ft 7ish or have very stiff legs you may prefer a 3m length rather than the standard 2m) Although, until you buy a belt, please try to bring along something belt-like and non-stretchy, it’s very useful until you treat yourself to a proper belt. Cost approx £7
2 yoga bricks (if you’re investing make sure they’re the right size like these ones, some sold are bigger and they’ll be uncomfortable for some uses) Cost approx £7 each. —- If you’re practicing at home, sometimes sturdy books are a good substitute
4 yoga blocks like these (or just 2 to begin with) Cost approx £6 each —- Again, if you’re practicing at home, sometimes sturdy books or firm cushions are a good substitute
And last but by no means least – a yoga blanket. You should definitely bring a blanket/large towel to class as a top priority. But, most people can leave investing in a specific yoga blanket to the bottom of their list. Yoga blankets are special because they aren’t flowy, slippy, or very squashy, and they will fold neatly and accurately. Traditionally yoga blankets were the only props used in yoga practice, they are supremely useful. Cost approx £25
After your mat, if you were to invest in all these items it would cost approximately £70 and they will all last decades. To some people that would be a lot of money, to some, hardly anything. As long as you have a safe mat you will not be excluded from any of my classes and I hope that as you fall in love with your yoga practice you will be able to invest in your practice.