Get into Gear: A Guide to Yoga Props

Get into Gear: A Guide to Yoga Props

It’s easy to bypass the prop station before class at your yoga studio, or even when shopping for your own at-home collection. For some, the variety of prop options can feel intimidating. For others, beliefs that yoga props aren’t necessary, especially if you’re flowing through poses quickly, are only for beginners or people who aren’t very flexible, or are only needed for restorative yoga or yin yoga classes can prevent them from reaching for support. However, the truth is props are beneficial for every body and can be utilized during all types of yoga. Meanwhile, pushing yourself to fit into a yoga pose sans-props runs the risk of causing serious harm.

Before we get into the basics of yoga gear, let’s debunk a popular misconception about yoga: that a pose is supposed to look a certain way. On the contrary, every person has a unique body type and bone structure. This means that a yoga pose will never look the same on different students—and, even more important to the safety of your body, you shouldn’t try to make it look the same as someone else’s. To demonstrate this point, international yin yoga teacher and author Paul Grilley offers free resources, including images of the variations in human bones. He explains, “If peoples' bones are different then their joints will have different ranges of motion.”

This is one reason why props are essential to every yogi’s practice. Not all yoga poses are going to be accessible to every body. Whether you’re holding poses (for instance in a yin yoga class) or flowing through them at a faster pace (perhaps in a vinyasa yoga class), yoga props are helpful tools to support yourself, find balance, come into proper alignment, and more. We’re breaking down essential yoga equipment—and why it’s a good idea to have different yoga props handy for your yoga practice.

  1.     Yoga Blocks

As therapeutic yoga teacher Jeff Grace has shared with us, “blocks are yoga's most versatile tool and a must-have for any home practice.”

Yoga Blocks
 Yoga block benefits:
  • Enhances stability
  • Brings the ground closer or within reach (for instance in forward folds)
  • Offers more space in the body
  • Can turn active poses into resting poses (i.e. bridge pose)
  • Meditation cushion alternative*
*Note: While it’s not the most ideal prop for meditation (see: Yoga Bolsters, below), it can be a temporary option for supporting your lower back by bringing your hips higher than your knees in seated poses during opening or closing portions of an asana class.


  1. Yoga Bolsters  

While a yoga bolster isn’t utilized in as many poses, unless you’re in a restorative yoga or yin yoga class, once you experience the support of the thick cushion, you won’t want to go to class without one. Yoga teacher Amy Ippoliti explains, “Bolsters are used to help create relaxation, soften postures, and open up the body.”

Yoga Bolsters

Yoga bolster benefits:

  • Firm seat for meditation or seated poses
  • Brings the ground closer or within reach
  • Can open the heart and body (i.e. in heart-opening poses)
  • Great for restorative yoga and yin yoga
  1. Yoga Straps
Yoga Straps

Straps are beneficial in active, or yang, types of yoga, as well as in yin yoga. As Brett Larkin has shared with us, “You can also break out a strap as you learn to bind your arms in various poses. Straps are lifesavers for people with tight hamstrings and shoulders. If you're stiff or new to yoga, a strap can help you safely achieve poses that were previously inaccessible.”

Yoga strap benefits:

  • Improves balance and form
  • Improves posture
  • Increases range of motion in various parts of the body
  • Opens shoulders and eases tension
  1. Yoga Blankets
Yoga Blankets

The yoga blanket is an easy prop to invest in, thanks to its versatility. Fold up small to use as an alternative to a meditation cushion, unfold a few times to support sensitive knees during asana, roll up to pad your neck and joints during restorative postures, or add warmth and weight to your final rest in savasana.

Yoga blanket benefits:

  • Provides cushioning to sensitive joints
  • Meditation cushion alternative
  • Can open the heart and body (i.e. in heart-opening poses)
  • Offers warmth and weight to resting poses
  1. Sandbags

According to Larkin, sandbags are the most underrated yoga prop. The weighted support system provides grounding and allows yoga students to surrender into deeper stretches and restorative postures.

Sandbag benefits:

  • Therapeutic; enhances ease and relaxation
  • Anchors body
  • Great for restorative yoga and yin yoga
  1. Yoga Mats
Yoga Mats

Just as with understanding different props and their many uses, there are many different types of yoga mats to choose from. Here are some benefits of each to help you choose the one that’s right for you:  

Sticky Mats

  • Secure and slip-free
  • Great for all levels
  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Hygienic + easy to clean


Eco-Friendly Mats

  • Biodegradable
  • Toxin and chemical-free
  • Long lifespan
  • Recyclable


Travel Mats

  • Lightweight + portable
  • Easily folds / rolls up
  • Good for minimal storage space


Thick Mats

  • Comfort and cushioning for sensitive joints
  • More durable than thin options
  • Good for restorative and yin classes


Hot Yoga Mats

  • Ultra sticky
  • Extra absorbent material
  • Odor resistant
  • Ideal thickness for grip and balance