I’ve put together a guide to help you choose the best yoga props for you including eco- friendly, budget and DIY options. As a studio owner for 12 years, I’ve tried and tested most of the items on my list so hopefully the only decision you need to make is what colour buy.
Eco- Friendly: I love Manduka mats because they last a lifetime so no landfill. The brand stands firmly behind this by offering a life- time guarantee. I’ve had my Manduka mat for 10 years and it’s been used almost daily either indoors, on the grass, sand, concrete, in dirt and in the rain (I’m pretty hard core just like the mat!) and it’s still got many years of yoga ahead of it. These mats are like the BMW of yoga mats- soft, luxurious and non- slippery.
Budget: I don’t recommend a “fitness mat” which is usually narrower than a yoga mat, thicker and is a bit of a tripping hazard. I’m not a fan of the cheap PVC mats mainly because they’re thin, slippery and release toxic gases in production, in use and in disposal. So if you’re on a budget but can afford to spend a little more, these TPE mats from Stretch Now are a good option.
DIY: a towel on the carpet is ok while you wait for your props to arrive in the mail. It’s not recommended long term because it doesn’t offer any padding, has no grip and will move as you move.
What For: In prenatal yoga we use a bolster for poses such as baddha konasana (Bound Angle Pose) or resting our head and chest in Balasana (Child’s Pose) or Malasana (supported squat) and for supporting the knees and ankles in side- lying for deep relaxation.
Eco- Friendly: I love the sustainable linen yoga bolsters by The Slow Mo Co. They’re filled with Australian buckwheat hulls and encased in a zippered, washable linen cover. I love that you can personalise your yoga bolster by removing some filling if you prefer it softer or adding more if you need more support.
DIY: Staggered folded blankets or a firm pillow wrapped in a blanket are ok while you wait for your props to arrive in the mail.
What for: In prenatal yoga we use blocks under the bolster in Supta Baddha Konasana so you’re only semi supine (and not flat on your back). If your knees are high off the floor in this same pose, you can put a block under each knee to bridge the gap between the knees and the floor. We also use them as an extension of your arms- that is, to create more length and space for your belly and chest in a low lunge or Prasarita Padottanasana (standing wide legged forward bend) or you can sit on a block to help you sit with a neutral pelvis (for optimal foetal positioning) in seated postures.
Eco- Friendly: I love the cork blocks made by Stretch Now. Cork is renewable, sustainable, non toxic and long lasting.
Budget: These foam blocks from KMART come with a strap but are not sustainable so they’ll end up in landfill.
DIY: 2 x 400ml cans are ok while you wait for your props to arrive in the mail.
What for: In prenatal yoga straps are used for shoulder and chest stretches, to bridge the gap between the hands or to assist us in seated forward bends.
Eco- Friendly: I love the organic cotton strap from Stretch Now. It’s durable and it comes in lots of beautiful colours. Cotton is also bio- degradable so it will degrade when it comes to the end of it’s life.
Budget: this cotton and polyester one that comes with the block from KMART.
DIY: a Theraband (latex band), your partner’s tie or belt, a sarong or a skipping rope.
What for: to enhance your deep relaxation at the end of the class (and for yoga nidra throughout pregnancy and in your postpartum while your baby is sleeping).
Eco- Friendly: I love these sustaintable linen eye pillows by The Slow Mo Co filled with an inner of linseed, lavender and chamomile to relax and rest the eyes and temples. I love to warm mine up for a minute in the microwave before doing Yoga Nidra to soothe my tired eyes but you can also put in the fridge to ease headaches and migraines.
Budget: These 100% bamboo eye pillows from Stretch Now are filled with flax seeds and dried lavender which work to block out light and provide gentle weight to the pressure points around the eyes and temples.
DIY: an eye mask, a clean sock or a piece of clothing are ok while you wait for your props to arrive in the mail.
BIRTH BALL (Fit Ball/ Stability ball/ Swiss Ball)
What for: It has many useful functions in pregnancy, postpartum and beyond.
In pregnancy it can be used to sit on instead of a chair to optimise the position of your pelvis (for optimal foetal positioning), in yoga and pilates to sit on and do wall squats, to lean over in the later stages of your pregnancy to relieve back pain and to give your baby space to come into a good position, sitting on or leaning over whilst on your knees in labour, for sitting on in the shower or leaning against in the bath during labour.
After you bring your baby home, you can sit on it and rock, do hip circles or gently bounce to settle your baby (and relieve your sore lower back) and finally for exercise (with or without weights). It has many functions and is a great investment.
When choosing a ball, keep in mind your hips should be higher than your knees so your pelvis is in a neutral position. If your knees are higher, your spine will be in a posterior tilt (rounded). If you’re over 165cm I suggest the 65cm ball but if you’re between 150- 165cm I suggest the 55cm.
Built To Last: these ones from Stretch Now are durable and anti- burst. I used these in my yoga and pilates studio for 10 years and they don’t look a day older.
Budget: the “Gymball” from Kmart is not designed to last and they’re not anti- burst but they’re ok for the short- term.
What for: like the birth ball, it has many useful functions in pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. In pregnancy it can be used for best hip and glute massage. Postnatally it can be used to challenge core exercises and to massage your neck and upper back.
There are half size rollers you can get from Kmart that you can use in pregnancy to massage your glutes but you’ll get more use out of a full size one. When choosing a roller, go for the softer smooth one without the spikes or lumps and bumps like this one from AOK.
Are you a tired, pregnant mum? Get your free 20 minute Guided Deep Relaxation (Yoga Nidra) to take you from exhausted to energised. Fill in your details HERE and I’ll send it to your inbox for you to download.