I travel to teach the YogaWorks teacher training program. A lot. 2015 saw me expatriated at least five months out of the year. While I’ve honed some seriously efficient packing techniques, yoga blocks and blankets are just too bulky to carry overseas. So I’ve become rather adept at adapting whatever I can find in a Japanese efficiency studio, French garret hotel room, or Chinese high-rise sublet. Whether you’re practicing at home and would rather not invest in a full arsenal of yoga gear or you’re on the road, look around. You’d be amazed at how many common household goods can double as yoga props. Here are some of my favorites.
Inverted trash can = yoga block. My hypermobile hips do not like parsvakonasana (side angle pose) sans block. My front hip feels all crunched up if I put my hand on the floor. Waste basket to the rescue. (Just be sure to, y’know, empty it first.)
Soup pot = yoga block. After a nine-hour teacher training day, sometimes I just need a restorative practice. A real challenge without props. A soup pot makes a perfectly stable support for setu bandha (bridge pose). Only trouble is sometimes I want to chill out while dinner’s heating up…
Coffee table = yoga blocks. One of my favorite variations of parivrtta trikonasana (revolved triangle pose) requires two blocks: one on its lowest height under the front foot and one on its highest height under the hand. Elevating the front foot loads more weight into the back leg, which stabilizes the pose and facilitates organizing the pelvis. The coffee table in my present Denver sublet serves brilliantly.
Bath towel = yoga blanket. Elevating my hips just a tad in supta virasana (supine hero’s pose) keeps my knees from howling so that I can stay for some time in this restorative quad stretch. I’m glad my present sublet provides two bath towels. One hangs in the bathroom where it belongs. The other hangs with my yoga mat.
Ottoman = Iyengar chair. I love, love, love chair backbends. An ottoman provides a wonderfully cushy support for viparita dandasana (inverted staff pose). I was the kid who liked to play on the furniture. Fortunately for me, my very progressive parents encouraged that genre of creativity.
Broomstick = dowel. Pincha mayurasana (forearm stand) is an all-time favorite with me. My shoulders, unlike the rest of me, are a little tight and I just can’t fight their resistance without something between my hands. Gripping a dowel with the palms facing up has the added advantage of encouraging external rotation at the shoulders. Not only witches find innovative uses for broomsticks.
Kitchen towel = yoga belt. This one’s tried and true. In fact, teachers often suggest this supta padangusthasana (supine big toe pose) approach as an at-home hamstring stretch.
Kitchen knife = bad idea. What furniture or everyday item have you incorporated into a yoga practice?
Jennie Cohen, E-RYT 500, teaches classes, privates, workshops, and teacher trainings internationally. Precise instruction and focused sequencing create an experience that is both informative and transformative. Jennie’s fascination with anatomy and her studies of the texts that form yoga’s philosophical foundation infuse her classes. Upcoming events and schedule at jenniecohenyoga.com. Be sure to follow Jennie on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter. Wanna take a Teacher Training with Jennie? She has two YogaWorks trainings coming up:
200-Hour Intensive Format, August 1 – 26, 2016 in Suzhou, China. 310.664.6470 ext. 137.
200-Hour Extended Format, October 14 – December 18, 2016 in Brattleboro, Vermont. FREE class & info sessh on July 16 from 2-4PM.