Before I pass on my Yoga prop tips that will help support your Fertility and Restorative Yoga practice, I need to take a second to rant a bit. Get up on my supportive soap box so to speak. When I started to use props in my Yoga practice, it changed my life – but it took me forever to get to the point that I was ok with using ALL THE PROPS!
Because, somewhere along the way, using Yoga props began to be seen as a crutch or weakness (unless you began in the Iyengar world). That the mere thought of using a block in triangle pose showed that you weren’t a ‘good yogi’ (whatever that means). Well, I think the total opposite is true – using props thoughtfully can take your practice to a whole other level.
Using Yoga props also shows that you are listening to your body and responding to its needs. Our bodily proportions may also be different, so for someone who has long arms – not using a block in lunge can be totally comfortable – while if your arms are shorter in relation to your legs, then using blocks will open the pose up and give you more space.
This is especially important when the goal of your practice is to support your fertility.
In the beginning, especially if your practice is predominantly at home, using pillows, books, and towels is a good place to start. Check out my at-home prop video here if this is where you’re at. But one day, you’ll want to upgrade and stop faffing around with makeshift props.
It’s like learning to ski on an old pair of heavy cumbersome skis – you get the idea of skiing, but it’s uncomfortable at times and seems to be a lot harder than it really should be! Then one day you try skiing with a good pair of skis that fit you properly – you begin to float and glide through your run with more ease.
Good props will also allow you to float and glide through your poses with ease!
This is especially true for Restorative Yoga as props are an integral part of the practice.
The goal of restorative yoga is to have your body completely supported so that the connective tissue and muscles can ‘release’ as opposed to ‘stretch’ (as you would in a flow class). When the muscles and tissues let go, our mind will follow – which will move you into the relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system) which counterbalances the stress reaction in our body and flushes the stress hormones.
During my restorative Yoga teacher training with Judith Hanson-Lasater, we spent hours learning how to fold a blanket properly, the exact placement of props to support every joint in the body (including the fingers!), and down to the centimeter measurement of bolster and blanket placement. We take our props very seriously in Restorative Yoga!
Where should you begin in your prop buying journey? Below are some tips, but check out the Fertile Body Yoga Prop Shop for my personal recommendations. (these are affiliate links that help support the work that I do, so please don’t run away!)
Fertility Friendly Yoga Mats
First, get yourself a yoga mat. There are so many out there it’s hard to know where to begin. Most important to keep in mind when purchasing a mat is what it’s made of. The cheap yoga mats are made with nasty chemicals (PVC, PER, PU) that are hormone-disrupting – yes, you heard that right! The hormone most likely to be affected – is estrogen. So let’s say NO to the cheap yoga mat at Target, please. Natural rubber, Jute, and cork are good options.
Supportive Yoga Bolsters
I like one rectangular and one round bolster. That might seem overwhelming for someone getting into the prop game, so if you want to go for only one, I would recommend the rectangular as it is more versatile overall. Choose a bolster that is more dense than fluffy (read the reviews!)
Yoga Blocks for Fertility Yoga
Blocks should be bought as a pair – much more useful overall. I use blocks a lot when I teach – as arm extenders, bolster support, or weight. Cork blocks are sturdier overall and better for the environment. Whereas foam blocks are nicer when up against the body and are less expensive.
Yoga Blankets for Fertility Yoga
Blankets are a lovely way to support the body when you don’t need a lot of height. They are also warm! Which triggers our relaxation response. Towels are a great substitute, but good Yoga blankets will give you consistency in density and shape. Although I like to practice with 6 blankets (yes 6!) 2 – 4 would suffice. Blankets can also be rolled up to mimic round bolsters.
Eye Pillows - the final step
And finally eye pillows. The pièce de résistance of any restorative pose. Bringing in the weight and stillness to the eyes is like an instant mini-vacation for the mind. Add a little scent into the mix and it can be pure heaven. Look for organic materials and washable covers. Pay attention to the size of the eye pillow as well – I like mine small and light – while other prefer heavier. And eye pillows can be used for adding light weight to the forhead or placed in the hands to help relax.