If you don’t have yoga props, you can use the following home practice prop hacks:
- Bolster: Roll thick towels or blankets tightly together, or use a large folded-up pillow.
- Strap: Use a belt, towel, exercise band, or jump rope. A couple of old neckties, bathrobe ties, a pet leash, or belts.
- Eye pillow: Try a clean sock! Put lavender tea bags inside of it for a calming practice or lemon for something more invigorating. An ACE bandage or headband can serve as an eye cover too. Anything to accomplish a sense of darkness! A much-loved but now single sock perhaps, a facecloth?
- Blocks: Use Tupperware (the sturdy kind), free weights, water bottles, books, or a pair of chairs or stools. Medium and small pots. Alternatively, you could also use big books, cans, a spare block of wood or log, and so on!
- Blankets: Any cloth that can be rolled/molded for different uses can work. Regular blankets, towels of all sizes, sleeping bags, tablecloths, spare curtains, and the like! Towels are the easiest substitute, but a rolled yoga mat often works well.
- Bolster: (I personally suggest pillows: couch, bed, throw) This is the most challenging one. You will need a large enough duvet that, when folded in half, it is roughly the same length as the distance between your tailbone and the crown of your head. If you don’t have this, blankets this size could work too. (Some teachers recommend a pile of blankets folded instead of something that is rolled, but for me the roll is most comfortable.) Once you have the right length, you can hold your “bolster’s” shape with twine or duct tape.
Here are more ideas from Yoga International
Example: Once you have assembled your supplies, let’s explore setting up this restorative pose.
You will need:
• Bolster (see above for instructions).
• Blankets (see above for options).
• Smaller blanket or hand towel.
• Eye cover.
BASIC SETUP AND INSTRUCTION
1. Find a comfortable space to practice and fold one or two blankets lengthwise, laying them out on the floor for a soft and padded support. A carpet or any other naturally soothing surface would also work.
2. Take a smaller blanket or hand towel and fold it into a triangle shape—something I affectionately nickname “the pizza wedge” for my students.
This will go under your main blanket (the one described below in point #3) to support your head and help to lower your chin, relaxing your neck and jaw and helping to stimulate your relaxation response.
3. Fold a blanket in such a way that one side is a little bit longer than the other. Make sure that the shorter side of the blanket is the one that goes on top, from the top of your head to the base of your skull. The longer, lower blanket goes just a touch underneath your shoulders. (See this blanket depicted in the full set up below.)
4. Lie back on your blankets and place your “bolster” (described above in point #4 under “prop substitutions”) under your knees and a rolled-up blanket (see point #3 for prop substitutions) under your heels. (The positioning of your ankles is important because it can help release muscle strain around your hips and deep abdominals—ideally you’d want your Achilles tendon positioned halfway between your knee and the ground.) Push the roll slightly down so that it doesn’t push much on your upper thighs. Make sure that your ankles rest at about half the height of your knees to the ground. Add additional heel support as needed for optimal comfort. If you run out of blankets or towels, you can also place a book or anything that’s flat under the towels or blankets you’re using to get the right height.
5. Cover your eyes with something if you like—maybe your single sock or a scarf—and cover your body with a blanket if needed. Make sure that you are warm enough.
6. Relax deeply into savasana knowing that you already have all that you need to begin this beautiful journey and rest.
• If you tend to get cold or need more cushioning for comfort, a little extra padding may be the thing; you can always add more blankets beneath you.
• If you have a longer neck or broader shoulders, you may need to add extra head support to be comfortable. In this case, place an additional blanket on the ground where your head will rest, and then place your head support on top of that.
Just begin to practice yoga. Know that you are complete already and lacking nothing. There’s nothing in the way, nothing more you need to buy. You could sit down right now on the ground and begin to breathe, grab a few blankets, and begin. You are ready right here, right now.