What props do I need for a restorative yoga class?

How to work out what to buy and what to improvise with!

There is no getting away from the fact that a restorative yoga class is much deserved once you have lugged a bag of blankets, blocks and bolsters to class! But how do you know what to bring especially when uncertain about what can be shared by the teacher? Iyengar students may be used to a stack of foam blocks, bricks, a yoga strap and a blanket whereas others just bring along a yoga mat.

“Restorative yoga is the use of props to support the body in positions of comfort and ease to facilitate health and relaxation.” Judith Hanson Lasater

What do I need to bring to class?

Firstly a good yoga mat is worth investing in since you will be lying or sitting down for many of the poses. Ideally a mat which is at least 4mm thick and long enough for you to lie down on comfortably. There are a wide variety available from both sports shops and yoga specialists. The traditional difference between a yoga mat and an exercise mat is that a yoga mat is sometimes described as "sticky" as it fix both you and props to the surface without slipping.

Blankets are another essential for restorative yoga and you probably can't have too many! Blankets variety from traditional cotton ones used in yoga to thick fleecy ones to keep warm. Its useful to have a variety - one to support your head and neck, a couple to roll up to support your joints and a large one to cover yourself with.

Restorative yoga is an investment in yourself and if you are committed to a regular practice then its well worth buying a bolster. These really are the staple prop for many restorative poses, to give support under the knees, to lie over in reclining poses or to snuggle into in savasana. They are not cheap and can vary in shape (round or rectangular) and size as well as colour and content (buckwheat and cotton). If you don't own a bolster you can roll up another blanket or use a firm cushion.

Other props that are used in class are blocks and bricks, made from foam or cork and yoga belts. These help give more support in some poses and can be substituted with books. You may be able to borrow some from your teacher or if you may opt for either bricks or blocks but if you decide to purchase, a pair of each is useful.

Finally the ultimate prop to ensure quiet, still, warmth and dark is an eye pillow. These come in a variety of sizes, shapes and scents and can also be easily made at home.

All items mentioned can be purchase in YogaZen shop or other yoga retailers like Yogamatters, Yogastudio or YogaDirect.

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