50 Shades of Yoga: Props, Straps, & Blocks, OH MY!

50 Shades of Yoga: Props, Straps, & Blocks, OH MY!

Because I couldn’t help myself, I wanted to give you guys a handy little guide to all the yoga accouterments you could ever need in your play roo– I mean yoga room 😉 Oh, and have you seen the 50 Shades movie yet? I haven’t and have not read the books either, but still want to see what the hype is all about! But I’ll wait until it comes out on Redbox so I don’t regret spending $12 on a terribly cheesy over-the-top chick flick, haha.

Also– how do you like the ridiculous picture up there?! The Frenchman made it and it cracked me up!

ANYWAY!!! Here’s what I got for ya:

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1.) Yoga Blocks. 
I think two is the magic number, but if you have space to keep four on hand, I’d roll with that. I only have two for the moment but always find myself wishing I had a couple more for different restorative postures. My favorite brand is Manduka, but at $16 a pop, if I’m buying 4 at a time, I’d just go with these which are totally acceptable and will get the same job done. I found these on Amazon.
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2.) A sturdy yoga mat. 
This is a no brainer, but I can confidently recommend two: Manduka’s Black Mat Pro and Lululemon’s The Mat. I have a closet full of every brand out there and they do nothing but collect dust! My favorites are tried and true.

          Manduka ‘Black Mat Pro’ Pros: it will last a lifetime and ages like a fine wine! It offers just enough cushion for those boney areas without being squishy and affecting your balance in standing poses. Cons: price ($100) and weight (about 8 lbs– definitely NOT travel friendly). Also, if your hands and feet sweat a lot, this could get slippery. I don’t sweat too much unless I’m in a heated class, so I use this one for 90% of the classes I take. And it’s the one you see in every Bad Yogi video.
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          Lululemon’s ‘The Mat’ Pros: SO sticky and if you sweat a lot, just get this one. The wetter it is, the more it sticks. And it’s noticeably lighter (weighing in at 5.8 lbs) and cheaperthan the Manduka (about $70). You also won’t have to worry about it wearing out quickly; I used mine daily in hot classes for 3+ years, and it’s still in great condition. I never want to give this one up. Cons: if you’re very boney, this one is just slightly less cushy than the Manduka. It’s still great, but I have a SUPER boney spine and I feel it a bit more with this than the other. Another temporary con is the offensively strong smell when it’s brand new. It’s made of rubber and latex (allergen alert!!!), so you’ll need to leave it unrolled for a few days where it can air out. Though once the smell is gone, it’s gone for good  🙂 Keep in mind that if you get a lighter color than black, it tends to look dirty and streaky from the hand and foot prints.
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3.) A Cozy Bolster. 
I’ve put off buying one for a LONG time and found myself wishing I had it almost every time I practiced. I could only seem to find ones that cost almost $100 and that was just not gonna happen, haha. So I found these which are only $35 and I can totally do that! I don’t have this in my possession yet, but will be buying in the next couple of months so I can’t attest to the quality. The only con to having this is that if you live in a smaller space, it definitely needs some room to store, so consider that before you buy! 🙂
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4.) Yoga Strap. 
I have to vouch for Manduka again here because their version is just perfect. It’s super long at 10 feet, the material is heavy and sturdy, and there’s no stretch in the material which is what you want (generally). Again, a bit pricier than the cheap ones you can find in discount stores, but worth it, in my opinion.
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Over to you: any favorite products or essentials you’d like to share? Everyone’s preferences are different, so I’d love to hear yours 🙂

* I’m not affiliated with any brand listed, whether via paid promotion, sponsorship, or otherwise. This is actually what I use and love and opinions are my own.

 

40 Comments

  1. Thank you for the mat recommendations!! I have a crappy £20 one and I slip so much (even when not sweating) that I have to use a towel to stop it. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a Lululemon one on my 22nd birthday in September 🙂

    Reply
    • What a perfect excuse to treat yourself! 😉

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  2. I love, love, love yoga blocks. I literally cannot practice without them! I use cork yoga blocks though and I love them. I just find them to be sturdier and they last longer, they do tend to be a little pricer than the foam ones, but I think it’s worth it. I have two right now, one foam and one cork, and I’ve just about destroyed my foam one, it is embarrassing to use in public (also, I do take care of my blocks, but I use them daily and they tend to wear down a lot). I’m looking to buy a second cork one but haven’t found a 3″ one in any stores (only 4″ ones) so I may have to start looking online!

    Reply
    • Right there with ya! I just always find the cork blocks too hard, but I’ll disclose that by saying I am a complete wimp, haha. If you ever want a longer lasting foam block, try Manduka’s. Definitely WAY sturdier than the standard cheap ones.

      Reply
  3. Hi! I love this post! I generally just buy the cheap brands, but as a college I’m all for cheap everything haha! I was wondering, could you do a post about how to use a yoga strap? I have one and use it sometimes to help with basic stretches, but I have yet to find a good video or post on all the different ways to use it. Thanks!

    tmjsharp.blogspot.com

    Reply
    • LOVE that suggestion! Totally adding it to my list 🙂

      Also, I can appreciate the college budget, haha. The cheaper, the better! If it gets the job done, that’s all that matters!

      Reply
      • I agree, something about ways that use the yoga strap would be helpful! I’m working on weaving a strap right now, but since I’m not really sure about all the situations where one would be useful, I’m not super certain about how long to make it/what to do with the ends/etc.

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      • Could you do a post on how to use yoga props? I’m a total noob and don’t know how to when to use them. Thanks! 🙂

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  4. I bought my yoga mat for $10-$15 dollars on sale but because I’ve been doing yoga for almost a year I think I might upgrade to something with more cushioning in the near future. Before I had a yoga mat I just did yoga on my hardwood floor but I would place pillows under my knees for extra support in poses like low lunge. I use belts instead of straps and books instead of blocks. Having fancy equipment can be useful and it’s pretty much a requirement if you’re teaching a class but as a novice yogi who just practices for fun and lives on a budget, improvising works really well. The great thing about yoga is that the only thing you really need to have it is your body and everything else is just an added bonus.

    Reply
    • Absolutely! I didn’t have a yoga mat either for the longest time, let alone props!

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    • One thing I love about Erin’s videos is she gives tons of alternative to using stuff you normally have around the Jon anyway instead of running off to buy things. I was using her suggestion of looping belts together for awhile until I just bought a cheapo strap for $7.

      Reply
      • Uh… Home not Jon. Geeez iphone autocorrect! Off by much? Lol

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  5. Just started using the hand version of these paws to stop my hands slipping when doing downward dog and the extra stretch I get in my back and twist in my arms is soooooo luxurious. Mmmmmm I can’t start to describe : )

    http://www.yogamatters.com/product/1427/maypaws/yoga-paws-elite.html

    Thanks for this post Erin, you made me smile. I cracked a joke about ropes at my class last week. Don’t think it was understood in relation to this film ; ) Hilarious!

    Reply
    • so funny! as a teacher no one really tells you how often you’ll be the only one laughing at your own jokes, hahah 😉

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  6. I have a long strap that I use sometimes but I mostly use my infinity strap. I can just grab it and put it to use without too much thought. If I need it tighter or shorter I just give it a twist or two.

    Reply
  7. I’m currently at work and thought nothing can boost my mood today… but when I saw this “Miss Motz Will See You Now” picture?! Girl, you made my day;D I would laugh out loud if I could;p

    Reply
    • YAY!! yeah, i guess that’s not really a shareable moment when you’re at work, haha 😉

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  8. My yoga studio has two types of straps, but I don’t know the brands. One is wider and stiffer and really hurts my hands when using it. The other is narrower, softer and I prefer it. I can wind it around my hand to keep from slipping.

    Erin, do you know of the straps you are recommending are soft or if they are stiff enough to be uncomfortable on the hands?

    Reply
    • Hmm, interesting! I’d say the Manduka strap is pretty soft. I tend to complain about any discomfort imaginable (haha, sad but true), and I’ve never had anything bad to say about this one.

      Reply
  9. I found the smell in my new Lululemon mat so overwhelming. Airing it out didn’t work for me but I washed it with a mix of water and baking soda a couple times and it took care of the smell beautifully. Now it’s my favourite mat!!

    Reply
    • YES! Ugh, it smelled like a barnyard for a couple weeks! Thank goodness for baking soda, haha

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  10. So helpful! Thanks Erin! Do you ever use a towel mat to prevent slickness? I have been thinking about getting one. Also, I haven’t read the book or seen the movie either, but I wouldn’t recommend. From what I’ve heard, 50 Shades promotes sexual abuse :/

    Reply
    • I have but I’ve never liked using them. Lululemon’s mat really did it in terms of having enough stickiness.

      I’ve heard a lot of mixed feelings about the movie/books for that reason, and I could totally see that point of view. I haven’t fully made up my mind yet about it… and this isn’t my idea of supporting or condoning the movie at all, just a tongue-in-cheek post, that’s all 🙂

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      • Oh, totally understand – I thought your post was funny!

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  11. One prop that I can’t do without, and is great for those of us with tight hips – the chip foam block. Just enough cushioning and elevation for all sitting positions, and some laying positions. Halfmoon Yoga out of Vancouver, BC Canada, has a ton of wonderful yoga props – they are my go to! If they seem pricey at $35 – keep in mind that they are light for travel, and the foam lasts forever (in my experience). Halfmoon sells covers for them for protection, extending the life of the foam. Totally worth a try!

    https://www.shophalfmoon.com/Chip_Foam_Yoga_Block_WITH_Cover_p/13580.htm

    Reply
  12. What a great post! I’m really tempted to get a Manduka mat now even with the expense. The mat I have now is killing my knees even when I fold it double. Which is a real shame since it was only $9 and I love it otherwise. I definitely love my knees more though haha.

    Reply
  13. My biggest issue is the sweaty palms/feet. I have a yoga mat towel similar to this: http://www.gaiam.com/hot-yoga-mat-towel/05-61539.html?start=24&cgid=3010900&srule=Price%3A%20Low%20to%20High but don’t find it works very well. I sweating PROFUSELY for it to stick or I go sliding all over anyways. It drives me mad in downward facing dog. Even when I’m not doing hot yoga I just have naturally sweaty hands/feet (gross, I know!) so it’s just a big issue for me.

    Reply
  14. Well, this is not a yoga prop, but for me it is.

    A tennis ball.

    Sometimes it is the right tool for the right place. In my case when doing pigeon on the left side (my “not so good” knee) I use it around the knee and allows me to ease into the pose with no pain.

    Reply
  15. Almost forgot:

    My favorite yoga prop is…

    The Foam Roller!

    And especially the Rumble Roller (I have both the short and the long)

    A pass of foam roller before the yoga class makes wonders to my 63 year old joints

    Reply
  16. i’ve probably got 5-6 mats floating around the house but for the last year this has been my go to mat – Gaiam Sol Dry Grip (black) – i treated myself to a pricey mat after becoming a certified instructor last October – i flip flopped between Manduka Black and the Sol Dry, decided to try Sol Dry first and have never been sorry – I don’t practice hot yoga but I do get sweaty palms and had tried all kinds of mats and towels to no avail UNTIL this mat – i’ve owned for a year and recommend to students all the time, (there are now 3 of them showing up regularly) i never slip AND it’s got a nice dense cushion – I’m a little on the bony side (tailbone and knees) and love the the firm cushion of this mat – $70 regular price but if you get on Gaiam’s email list you can pick up with a discount now and then – big fan

    Reply
  17. What’s your opinion on the yoga wheels that I see people starting to use? I really need more heart opening. I have been thinking about getting one as a prop, but I don’t want to spend all of the money on it if it’s not worth it!

    Reply
    • I just got one and i love it! check out “revolution wheel”. I got that brand. it’s so awesome! really great for working on those backbends. It’s a little uncomfortable because i’m not used to bending that way, but i am excited to start seeing progress in my backbends (and posture!)

      Reply
  18. I like doing hot vinyasa flow (not Bikram, just vinyasa flow in a room that’s around 90 degrees) and I love the Aurorae Synergy 2-in-1 mat. I got it for Christmas and I haven’t been using it a ton (bad yogi) but so far it’s great! It has a towel sown into the top and it’s made for lots of sweating since it gets stickier as it gets wetter: http://www.auroraeyoga.com/products/best-yoga-mats/aurorae-yoga-mat-towel-synergy-the-original.html

    I was looking at the Manduka and the Lulemon mats but put off a bit by the prices.

    Reply
  19. I’m in love with Manduka everything. I sweat a lot from early menopause and the eko lite is my favorite. I have about 6 different mats from them. All worth the money but
    I tend to go with sale colors! Also love the strap and the blocks. I do have cheaper blocks that I bring into my classes for students to utilize. Great post.

    Reply
    • I have to ask you, I’ve been searching for an answer forever! Do you think the Manduka mats in any other color than black start looking dirty? I really want the color “lure” kind of a coral color but since this mat is supposed to last forever, I want it to look nice forever! if you could email me back in case i don’t see your reply, that would be great! (rawseeley@gmail.com)

      Reply
      • YES! i love their jewel tone mates but i know a lot of people who have them, and even though they’re clean people, they end up with scuff marks and “dirty” spots all over. not sure how! but it just happens!

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  20. I do yoga at home and I have a carpeted floor. Do you know if either of these mats are good on carpeted flooring? I’m trying to find one that will be “stiff” enough that I can do my balancing poses and so that it won’t bunch up under me. Thanks in advance for your help!

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  21. This is a really great guide for people who want to invest in their own yoga equipment! Having your own personal yoga props is a lot more hygienic and can possibly give you more motivation to continue practicing.

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  22. A cozy buster….I’m gonna have to look into that 🙂 thanks for sharing!

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  23. I use blankets (“mexican” blankets that most websites sell) a lot! I use them under a hip one side during seated poses when I can’t root both sitz bones to keep hips level (1/2 Lord of the Fishes for example), easy sit because my hips are tight, have to have them for yin practice, and I LOVE to roll one up nice & tight in a long roll & lay my spine down it to promote a nice, relaxing opening at the beginning of practice, and, of course, folded up into a nice little pillow for my head in savasana….and if you get chilled during savasana, you can cover up!

    Reply

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