Written By: Karla Co
A little background: I started yoga years ago with Yoga Manila. I used to wait for my then partner to finish studying in a cafe across EDSA Shangri-la Hotel so doing something productive became a necessity. It was in a simple studio inside the hotel. It didn’t have matching yoga mats, yoga blocks, and straps. It’s small, quiet, and the lights are always dim. Oh, the smell is divine too because, to get to the studio, you’d have to walk past Chi Spa. I love that quaint studio because it was so conducive for yoga first-timers.
Speaking of that, I remember my first yoga experience. I had a raggedy-ass mat that caused me to slip in every asana I did. I know this post is about props but I will try my best not to mention any brand because I try to invite diversity and I respect your volition to pay for the things that you use. Instead of buying a brand-spanking’ expensive mat, I got a towel. What can I do? That’s the only thing I can afford then. In the next year or two, the practice encouraged me to delve deeper. I have tried other studios, and I started getting familiar with different kinds of yoga. I finally decided to invest in a decent yoga mat. I’m not gonna lie, the raggedy-ass mat helped me become strong and stable. Whenever the teacher would use cues like “Glue your hands to the mat.”, I obsessively wiped my hands in the hopes of getting in a certain asana in the safest possible way. A yoga teacher training prompted me to get a good enough mat. That training also got me to explore props that I didn’t normally use. When I started yoga, I thought props are for people who can’t reach their toes. Boy, was I wrong. Okay, partly it is, but it made more sense to me now.
Over the years, after a few teacher training, I’ve realized and finally admitted to loving props. I realized that not reaching for a block or two is my ego telling me that it won’t look good. What does looking good even mean in yoga, right? Last April, when I started getting serious about my home practice, I knew I needed support. I ditched my bed for space. I used alternatives for props that aren’t available to me. I used pillows as a bolster, my water bottle as a block, a scarf as a yoga strap, and all that. About ten years after my first yoga class, I bought myself my first pair of blocks. It’s life-changing. It’s absolutely fine to use props wherever you are in your journey. (I specifically found great use of them whenever I open my chest during a low lunge. My hands don’t usually reach the floor.) Now that I have blocks, I use them all the time. Having a 200-hr training myself, I can modify asanas to make them more accessible and safer for my body. Studying and taking online courses allow me to break down these poses to encourage others to try them.
As of the moment, I am currently obsessed with my block-bolster combo. It was such a great decision to purchase a bolster. It allowed me to thoroughly enjoy Yin and Restorative yoga even more. I started my practice with Ashtanga. I still have days when I practice Vinyasa and other flowy sequences but since I am teaching several classes a week, perfect rest and me-time is either Hatha, Yin, or Restorative. It provides a space for me to immerse within as I work on my subtle body with my teacher.
It’s totally fine to practice without anything else but a mat. My minimalist self still yearns for that. My detached self still sees herself in nature practicing on grass or sand without anything but herself and Pachamama. But if blocks, straps, yoga wheel, blankets, bolsters, and all that jazz can help you feel supported in your practice today, by all means, add to cart and check out. Live.