Welcome to a guest blog to the Yogipod blog from Sarah from Accessible Yoga with Sarah
When I first started practicing yoga, it was in a local hall with a fantastic teacher – but we didn’t have any props. I didn’t even know yoga props were a thing! I was really lucky that the teacher was able to give us options for postures, so they worked for us, but I found that in a lot of cases, the postures still didn’t feel right for my body. Fast forward a few years and I was starting to branch out and practice with other teachers – I remember travelling all the way to London (from Cheltenham) for my first ever yoga workshop. I’d never actually set foot in a yoga studio before, and I found it a bit intimidating (but that’s a whole other blog post!).
When I entered the studio, I found a place and rolled out my mat, and noticed a pile of props had been given to every spot. There were two bolsters, two bricks, two blocks, two pillows, a strap, and an eye pillow… I had no idea what they were all for! I was joining this workshop on day 2 for a single module, so all the other attendees had been there for a while. As I watched them come and sit down, I noticed that they each used different props to make sitting more comfortable for them; some sat on a bolster or a block and some used blankets. I was used to sitting cross-legged on the floor and dealing with the fact that it didn’t feel great for my knees or ankles.
I gave it a try, and honestly, the first time I sat cross-legged on a bolster, I was converted to the use of props! All of the tension I’d been feeling in my knees was gone, I finally understood how people can sit cross-legged for so long! In that workshop we learnt a bit about props before practicing a lovely restorative sequence (which was completely new to me). The main thing that has still stuck with me to this day is that props can be used to either create or fill space.
For example, in a seated forward fold, a strap can be used to fill the space between our hands and our feet – meaning we don’t need to overstretch or use force, we can let our hamstrings and lower back guide us.
I quite often use a block to add length to my arms too – for example, in a Low Lunge, I bring my hand to a block rather than the floor if I’m finding a twist – this creates space for my body to twist, and also fills the space between my hand and the floor.
I started to practice more restorative yoga which uses lots of props to make a posture as comfortable as it can possibly be, so you can hold it anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes. In this Reclined Butterfly posture, I’m using a bolster under my back which is being supported by two bricks (so it’s on an incline), I’ve got a blanket over the bolster for my head to rest on, I’ve then got blocks on the floor either side of me so I can rest my hands comfortably by my side, and then a heavy blanket over my body to provide some comfort.
I also started to use props in my Shavasana, instead of lying flat on my back I started to add a bolster underneath my knees, this feels amazing for my lower back, and I’ve been converted to using an eye pillow too. I’m actually allergic to lavender (which a lot of eye pillows are scented with) but Yogipod eye pillows are unscented which I love, because you can add your own or leave them unscented!
By learning about props and starting to include them in my home practice, I had a big shift in perspective. I came to the realisation that my yoga postures didn’t need to look a certain way, or match what other people were doing. Up until this point I’d always had this idea of a ‘full expression of a pose’ or ‘the real pose’, and that what I was doing was a steppingstone to those, and that I needed to keep practicing until my body could do it. This shift in perspective led me to discover accessible yoga – both as an organisation, but also as a way of practicing. Seeing practices like chair and bed yoga reaffirmed that there is no correct way to practice a pose, it’s about our individual experiences within a pose. And that props weren’t just bolsters or blocks anymore, they were chairs and walls – anything which helped us connect with our body whilst in a posture and make it work for us. It’s also worth mentioning here that it was during this shift in perspective when I discovered the philosophy of yoga and started to deepen my practice in that sense as well (but again, that’s a whole other blog post!).
Fast forward another year or so and I’d realised that I’d done as much as I could by myself, so I decided to enrol on Yoga Teacher Training. It took a lot of encouragement from other teachers I’d met at various workshops, and it was also through their recommendation that found my training provider. I wanted my 200-hour training to include accessible yoga, to include props, and also talk about important aspects such as cultural appropriation in yoga – and I was so grateful that I found the right training for me. Whilst completing my 200-hour training, I also attended Accessible Yoga training where I was able to deepen my knowledge of props and how to really make yoga accessible for everyone.
Now, as a fully qualified teacher, I also teach chair and bed yoga alongside my mat-based vinyasa and restorative classes. There’s still a lot of people that I speak to who haven’t heard of practicing yoga in a chair or a bed before – we’re so conditioned by the images we see on social media of what yoga is. If you’ve never tried them before, I’d really recommend it. On my online platform, one of my bed yoga practices is my most watched video which is really interesting!
So, it was the introduction of props to my practice that really started this journey of learning and the perspective shift which has ultimately made my practice what it is today. I’d love to hear about your experiences with using props in your practice, and whether you have a favourite – let us know in the comments!
Sarah (She/Her and They/Them) runs Accessible Yoga with Sarah and teaches both online and in-person. You can find out more about them here: