If you are anything like me you might be very aware of your surroundings, just want to blend into the crowd, are afraid of standing out, or being judged by others. I had a moment when I first decided to bring my Vinyl Bolster to class (in a studio that doesn’t have bolsters), where I hesitated because I was worried what other people would think. It can feel a little bit intimidating to bring your own props to a class environment that doesn’t have, or cue the use of specific props, but I want you to know that it doesn’t have to be!
Here are some prop misconceptions I want to address first:
- Using props in your practice isn’t only for restorative yoga
- Using a prop to aid you in a posture is not “cheating” or making your practice too “easy”
- Any age demographic can benefit from the use of props in a variety of ways
After I started bringing my vinyl Long & Lean Yoga Bolster to class (click here to read my blogpost "Using a Vinyl Bolster for Hot Yoga"), I was impressed with how much I relied on it, and how easy it was to clean and care for.
Naturally I became curious to test out some other Love My Mat Vinyl Props in the heated studio, with the goal of finding my favourite Vinyl Prop Kit to take to every class with me. I decided to test out a set of Knee Pillows, an Eye Pillow, a Prana Bolster, and a Mini Round Bolster, all of course with Wipeable Vinyl Covers.
Here are my thoughts and favourite ways to practice with each of these Vinyl Props …
Vinyl Knee Pillows
I am completely serious when I tell you that Knee Pillows are my all-time favourite yoga prop. Why? Because I believe they are the most versatile prop, and I use them more than anything else. Here are some ways I use a set of vinyl knee pillows in a Hot Yoga class:
- Under my knees so the kneecaps aren’t grinding against the floor: Perfect for poses like Camel, Gate Pose, Cat-Cow, lunges
- To add a little bit of weight in my palms: Sometimes this weight can be used to add a little bit of extra challenge in my practice by holding one in each palm with arms extended in poses such as Warrior II or Chair Pose. Most often I use this weight to help ground me by holding one in each palm while resting in Savasana, Reclined Cobblers Pose, Supported Fish, or sitting in meditation
Vinyl Eye Pillow:
Don't be fooled, it's not just for the eyes! Here are some ways I use a Vinyl Eye Pillow in a Hot Yoga class:
- Over my eyes, or resting on my forehead in reclined postures: Such as Savasana, Reclined Cobblers Pose, Reclining Hero, Supported Bridge
- Under the back of my head as a little cushion: in any posture where you are fully reclined such as in Savasana, Reclined Supine Spinal Twists, or Happy Baby
- Under my forehead as a little cushion and lift: Whether I am on my belly resting between postures, or in poses such as Childs Pose, Puppy Pose, or Sleeping Pigeon, I like to slide my Eye Pillow under my forehead for added comfort, but it also allows me breathe a little easier with that slight lift
Vinyl Mini Round Bolster:
In a lot of poses I found that I could use the Vinyl Mini Round Bolster in place of any other size/shape Bolster, but here are some other uses I found unique to this prop:
- Under my neck/head to add support in reclined postures: This bolster is filled with Buckwheat Hulls, making it pliable so it acts as a pillow molding to the back of your neck in reclined poses such as Savasana, Supported Bridge, Reclined Cobblers Pose
- To add a little bit of weight and challenge: Add a little extra heat to your practice by using the weight of this small bolster resting on top of, or squeeze between your shins in Boat Pose with Knees Bent
- To support proper alignment: Sometimes I will place a Mini Round Bolster between my knees/thighs in Chair Pose or Bridge Pose where you might typically use a Yoga Block to help ignite your supporting muscles and maintain proper alignment
Vinyl Prana Bolster:
I use the Vinyl Prana Bolster in all the same ways I like to use the Long & Lean Yoga Bolster, but interestingly, I have found that I prefer the Prana size. This bolster is perfect if you want the same support without as much added lift from the ground. I like to use it like this:
- To support a gentle backbend or chest opener: I like to use a bolster to gently lift my body so I can comfortably open up my spine and chest in poses such as Supported Bridge or Supported Fish
- To rest forearms: Sometimes I like to bring the ground up slightly to meet my body. I use a Prana Bolster to rest my forearms on in poses such as Sleeping Pigeon and Standing Wide Legged Forward Fold so I don't overextend my body to meet the ground
- Under my knees/thighs: I use this bolster in reclined poses like Savasana to neutralize the spine, or under my bent leg in Pigeon Pose
So, What is My Ideal Vinyl Prop Kit for Hot Yoga?
After a few months of taking a variety of different vinyl covered props to Hot Yoga classes (Long & Lean Bolster, Prana Bolster, Mini Round Bolster, Knee Pillows, Eye Pillow), I have settled on my favourite prop combination that I now take with me to every class.
My kit includes:
- Vinyl Prana Bolster
- Vinyl Eye Pillow
- Set of Vinyl Knee Pillows
That might sound like a lot, but I promise you it’s not. It all fits inside my Love My Mat Extra Large Yoga Prop Bag, along with my mat, towel, water bottle and toiletries bag. The reason that I find this combination of props most successful is because I can adapt the props for a variety of uses, and often times use them together in different combinations. Any time I have a knee or the back of my head resting against the ground I slide under a Knee Pillow. Whenever my forehead is resting against the ground I slide either a knee pillow or eye pillow under. In reclined postures I often have the eye pillow under the back of my head, the knee pillows in my palms, and the bolster either under my knees/thighs or under my back.
I encourage you to bring whatever props best suit your needs to class if you feel like it will benefit your practice. A yoga instructor will not discourage you from using props to support your practice, it is actually an amazing sign that you are in tune to what your body needs and how to best care for it. Each practice is different because our body’s needs change every day.
Using a variety of props in different combinations allows me to release more tension, relax into the posture, still my mind, and focus on my breath. After all, isn’t that why we are all here?
Click here to see the selection of Wipeable Vinyl Yoga and Meditation Props we have available. We are always updating our Vinyl Prop selection online, and recently added 5lb Sandbags and 10lb Sandbags with Vinyl covers!
Don't forget to check out my previous post for my Vinyl Prop cleaning/disinfecting routine, I use the same process on all of my vinyl props!
Sending you love and positivity!