Okay, so technically, you don’t need anything other than your body and your knowledge to do yoga. However, most of us don’t do yoga on the bare floor, which means at the very least, we need a mat. And there are several other yoga props and yoga life essentials that support our practice, deepen our growth, or make our healthy, yogic lifestyle more accessible. In this post, I’m sharing my 17 favorites!
Why are they my favorites? Because in my over 20 years of yoga practice, I’ve found these yoga accessories to be:
- Impeccable quality
- Highly useful
- and/or Deeply supportive of my growth
Please note, I’m not affiliated with any of the brands or stores featured in this post in any way. For your ease, I’m providing links to where you can purchase these items at a decent price. But you can find the same or similar items elsewhere. My intention is simply to share the yoga props I think are most useful. And what has made my yoga life easier and more meaningful.
I hope you find it helpful!
Best & Most Useful Yoga Props
We’ll start with asana (pose) props, since they’re the most fundamental to your practice.
1. The Ultimate Yoga Prop: Your MAT
There’s no more vital yoga prop than your yoga mat. So it’s important to get a good one. Consider it an investment, as a quality mat can make a big difference in your yoga life.
First and foremost, you want to make sure it has a good grip. Mats that let you slip and slide when you’re in poses like Downward Dog or Warrior 2 make holding them way more difficult.
Additionally, you want to make sure your mat’s not too spongey. This makes it harder to balance. (If you need extra cushion for postures that press your knees, hips, back, etc. into the ground, you can add a blanket over your mat for those poses.)
I also like a mat that aligns with my broader yoga lifestyle goals. Meaning, it’s made sustainably and is chemical-free.
The Jade Harmony Yoga Mat checks all these boxes. While it’s a little pricey, I’ve had mine for many years, and it’s still in excellent condition. So I’ve found it to be a wise investment.
2. My Favorite Yoga Prop: The Bolster
If you don’t already have a nice big yoga bolster, you’re missing out on one of the best yoga props ever invented! These are mostly used in restorative yoga classes to support you in poses like Reclining Bound Angle and Child Pose. However, I often use mine to do those 2 poses on their own, at the end of a long day. The combo eases PMS symptoms and helps me wind down for bed. Tension and stress just melt off of me.
When selecting a yoga bolster, the main thing you want to look for is that it’s big enough and firm enough to truly support the weight of your body. Also ideal is a removable cover, so you can wash it from time to time. (Tip: let the cover air-dry instead of putting it in the dryer, so it doesn’t shrink.)
3. Yoga Strap: This Prop’s Not Just For Beginners
You might assume this yoga prop is mostly for beginners. And of course it is an awesome tool for people who are new to yoga, as well as anyone who has limited range of motion or flexibility. It adds length to your arms when you’re reaching forward in poses like Forward Bend and Hand To Big Toe or behind you in poses like Dancer and Cow Face.
But the truth is, anyone can benefit from using a yoga strap. I especially love the deep stretch I get when using a strap for Reclining Leg Extensions. For this benefit alone, it’s worth the meager investment. (I bought mine on Amazon for just $7.) I also use it to give myself the extra reach I need to get into King Pigeon.
4. Yoga Blocks: A Must-Have Yoga Prop For Beginners
If you’re new to yoga, this prop will make your yoga life so much easier. Not just now, at the start of your practice, but down the road too. That’s because blocks support you as you’re learning proper alignment in your postures.
Often times, when beginners encounter a pose that challenges their flexibility, strength, and/or range of motion, they sacrifice form in order to hold or deepen the posture. This means, they’re learning how to do these poses incorrectly. And worse, they’re risking injury.
A yoga block is an incredibly versatile yoga prop. It extends your arm reach in standing poses that require you to bend, such as Triangle, Revolved Triangle, and Half Moon. It brings the floor to you, so you don’t have to bend so far, possibly sacrificing alignment. And so you don’t have to suspend yourself mid-air if you can’t reach the floor.
Additionally, you can use blocks to support your knees in Seated Bound Angle. You can take a seat on your block to keep your heels on the floor in Garland. By putting your hands on blocks in poses like Splits and Crescent Lunge, you can honor your edge and still support the weight of your body. Or, place it under your back for added lift in Bridge Pose.
Given that blocks are often used to help support the weight of your body and facilitate balance, it’s important to choose sturdy ones. I’ve found the foam blocks – though cheaper – tend to be flimsy. Meaning, it’s easier for them to topple over. I love these cork blocks, because they have enough bulk and weight to feel almost as steady as the ground itself.
Blocks can be useful at any stage of your yoga journey. Don’t hesitate to use them if you need that support for whatever reason.
5. Yoga Blankets: Another Versatile & USEFUL Yoga Prop!
The yoga blanket is a must-have yoga prop for everyone. It’s useful in a variety of ways. But what makes it so invaluable to all yogis is its role in Shoulder Stand.
You NEED to use blankets in Shoulder Stand to protect your neck. Supporting your shoulders on a stack of 2 folded yoga blankets, with your head on the floor, leaves some space between the floor and your neck. This ensures the weight of your body stays in your shoulders and not on your neck.
But you don’t want to use just any old blankets you may have around the house. Think about supporting the weight of your body with your shoulders on your blankets. You don’t want to slide off or have the blanket flatten to the point it’s not offering any support. A good yoga blanket is:
- Thick enough to provide support
- Comfortable (not too stiff or itchy)
- Large enough to cover your whole body
- Machine washable
Besides Shoulder Stand, blankets offer soft and adjustable cushion, height and support for different parts of your body in many postures. Think under you hip in Pigeon. Under your bottom or knees in Child Pose. Beneath your front hip bones in Locust or under your bottom in Seated Bound Angle.
Basically, anywhere you feel it would be supportive to fill a space between your body and the floor with a soft cushion, you can place a folded or rolled blanket there. And doing so is a wonderful way to explore the self-love aspect of your yoga life. I splurged and treated myself to these perfect-in-every-way yoga blankets on Amazon. But your standard Mexican Blankets – beautiful and affordable – fit the bill and are cheaper.
Props For The Meditation Portion of Your Yoga Life
The next 4 yoga props support your meditation practice. They help align your body, mind, and spirit for the pinnacle experience of a yoga life – meditation.
6. The Ultimate Yoga Meditation Prop: A Cushion
Do you use a meditation cushion? This is one of those yoga props that’s highly personal. Some people prefer not to use one. And for those who do like to use them, the style that feels most comfortable varies from person to person.
Personally, I do like to use a meditation cushion. Not every time I meditate, but definitely when I know I’ll be sitting for a longer practice. The added height beneath my bottom relieves pressure on my knees and hips. And with my knees below my hips, it’s easier to keep my back upright and long.
I’ve found the round zafu cushion (pictured above) to be ideal. But some people prefer a crescent-shaped one. Still others love a meditation chair, which offers the additional support of a seat back. Or a meditation bench, which raises your bottom, so you can bend your knees and place your feet beneath you (as in Thunderbolt Pose) without putting any weight on your feet.
If you’re not sure which option you’d prefer, visit your local Zen Center. They often have a variety of options available for community use during meditation sittings. As a bonus, you might meet some other meditators in your area! You can also try different sitting positions using a pillow or folded blanket to explore what feels most supportive for you.
7. A Mala To Train Your Mind For Meditation
A mala is an invaluable addition for your yoga life. Yoga’s ultimate goal is to establish a sense of being at-ease in our body, so we can focus on training our mind to enter the stillness of meditation. Once we’ve prepared our body with asanas, the best thing we can do to settle a busy mind for meditation is work with a mantra.
A mantra serves as an incredibly powerful tool for training the mind. In fact, that’s what the word mantra means – a tool to train your mind. (Read my post on How To Quiet Your Mind With A Mantra to learn more.) Whether or not mantra meditation is your preferred meditation technique, we can all benefit from practicing it from time to time. A mala helps us do that.
The tactile sensory input of working the beads of a mala through your fingers offers a powerful anchor to the present moment. And the repetition of your mantra tethers your mind to one single thought. Which means, it’s not wandering all over the place or drifting off to sleep.
Choosing a mala is even more personal than a meditation cushion. There are so many options in terms of color and bead material. I chose a Tiger’s Eye mala for its metaphysical properties of focusing the mind, assisting in mental clarity and stabilizing emotions. But you can pick any type of stone, wood, Boddhi seed, etc. Explore and let your intuition guide you to the one that speaks to you!
8. A Tuning Bowl To Attune Your Energy
Ever heard of a tuning bowl? If you’ve been exploring a yoga life for some time, chances are you have. This powerful yoga prop uses the healing resonance of sound to harmonize and balance your energy.
Tuning bowls (also called singing bowls) help you tune-in to your meditation practice. You make them sing by striking the side or lip of the bowl, or by gliding the striker along the bowl’s rim. The resulting vibrational sound calms the mind and nervous system.
While this practice hasn’t received much research attention, one study supports what meditators have known through firsthand experience for many centuries. It found tuning bowl meditation to “increase feelings of relaxation and decrease feelings of stress.” Also, that it “increased feelings of spiritual wellbeing… [and] mood states such as tension, anger, and depression decreased following the meditation.”
You can choose a traditional Tibetan singing bowl, like mine pictured above, or a quartz crystal bowl, which produces a beautiful quality of sound. I bought mine here.
9. Incense: Enhance The Spiritual Ambience For Your Yoga Life
Incense has been widely used for spiritual practices in different cultures around the world for thousands of years. The weight of that history lends credence to its benefits. However, it’s unclear exactly how or why so many people find incense to benefit their spiritual life.
Maybe it has something to do with how smells affect emotions. (This study suggests pleasant scents may even “have potential to treat patients with psychological problems such as depression”.) Maybe just the intention involved in the ritual of lighting incense draws us into a more spiritual state. Or perhaps there’s something else at work…something ephemeral we can’t quite identify.
I don’t know how or why incense works. For me, and countless others across the globe, it just does. Incense has a calming effect, which makes it a great prop for yoga meditation. Additionally, according to many traditions, it has a spiritually cleansing effect.
However, it’s important to note this practice does produce smoke, which can be inflammatory for our lungs. So you don’t want to burn too much of it. It’s ideal to open a window when burning it, especially in a smaller setting.
I’ve tried many different incense scents over the years, and I’ve settled on Chandan (or sandalwood) as my favorite. It’s a warm and mellow mix of earthy and sweet aromas that soothes my mind, opens my heart, and lifts my spirit.
Yoga Props For Your Yoga Life Off The Mat
Okay, so the following items aren’t really yoga props. They’re just useful gear that can make staying aligned with your yoga life goals easier and more comfortable.
10. A Good Yoga Bag Makes Your Yoga Life Easier
It took me a while to settle on what type of yoga bag fit my yoga lifestyle best. I picked this tote from Prana many years ago, and it’s turned out to be exactly what I needed. Unfortunately, they no longer make it. But there are other brands that offer a variety of yoga tote bag options.
Of course, a different style may work better for you. But I’ll just offer some food for thought you may want to consider when selecting your yoga bag.
Originally, I started out with a drawstring mat-bag that held my mat nice and neat. It was compact and served my most basic need – an easy way to carry my yoga mat. But over time, I found I actually needed more than just my mat when going to a class.
For instance, I needed a towel and a water bottle. If I didn’t want to bring my purse, I also needed space for my keys, wallet, sunglasses, and phone. Sometimes, it was convenient to carry a snack too. And if I wanted to use my own yoga blanket(s) – which I did – then I definitely needed a bigger bag.
So a tote bag ended up fitting my yoga life just right. Whatever style you choose, think about what all you realistically want to carry. Also, how comfortable the bag is to carry once you’ve got your stuff in it. This tote on Amazon is affordable and looks super convenient.
11. Yoga Mat Spray
This is a must-have yoga prop. Even if you’re not actively focusing on saucha, I think we can all agree having a clean mat is important. Saucha, of course, is the yoga life discipline of cleanliness. It guides us to live in a way that purifies our body, mind, and spirit. So while you can certainly purchase a yoga mat spray, I suggest making your own with this wonderful (and easy) recipe I found on Healthy Maven.
That’s because when you make your own, you know it’s made of pure and natural ingredients. And with the essential oils this recipe calls for, you’ll be supporting cleanliness not only of your body (via a clean, non-toxic mat), but also for your mind and spirit. Check out the essential oil benefits included in this recipe:
- Lavender Oil: Besides being anti-septic & anti-inflammatory, lavender has a calming effect, decreases stress, and supports better mood. It’s a cleanser for your whole body-mind-spirit system.
- Peppermint Oil: In addition to antiseptic properties, peppermint improves mental focus, alertness, and concentration. It clears your mind!
- Tea Tree Oil: This oil is a powerhouse cleaner, with antiseptic & antibacterial effects. And because it’s a stimulating smell, like peppermint, it also supports mental clarity.
- Lemon Oil: Studies have found this oil to be “a powerful calming and mood-improving agent”. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal qualities.
When you use a yoga mat spray packed with these powerful ingredients to clean your mat, it becomes a sort of post-session, feel-good yoga prop!
12. Fruit-Infusing Water Bottle: Another Yoga-Aligned Life Prop
This is a new addition to my yoga life. I’m probably late to the game on this one. I don’t know why it took me so long to invest in this fruit-infusing water bottle. Regardless, I’m so happy I did!
So what makes a water bottle a yoga prop? Well, it checks several important boxes for me.
- It’s sustainable – no single-use plastic. That aligns it with ahimsa – the yogic discipline of non-harming. In this case, what I’m not harming is the environment.
- It encourages me to drink more water. This is just plain healthy for me. And since drinking plenty of water supports my kidneys and digestive system in eliminating toxins, it supports saucha of my body.
- The light & refreshing fruit flavors are delightful. And because I feel satisfied with the flavors, I don’t feel the urge to drink a bunch of sugary drinks. Too much sugar leads to inflammation and mood fluctuations, both of which work against my yoga life goals of physical and mental wellness.
You can find one like mine (pictured above) on Amazon.
13. Flip Flops: Yes, They Can Be An Off-The-Mat Yoga Prop!
I confess, I LOVE wearing flip-flops. The only footwear I love more is my bare feet. But that’s not why they made my list of favorite yoga life props.
Flip flops actually do serve a purpose for your yoga practice. (So does walking barefoot.) That is, they allow for more sensation in your feet and a sense of connection to the ground. They give your toes room to spread. We practice yoga in our bare feet, but most of us spend a large portion of our days wearing shoes that confine and artificially support our feet. Walking barefoot (or the next closest thing – in sandals) can help us develop a sense for finding balance and stability in our feet – without the support we’re used to getting from our shoes.
In saying that, I’m well aware there’s a lot of strong advice out there about how unhealthy flip flops can be for our feet. And while there’s also growing awareness around the benefits of walking barefoot (or in minimalist shoes), I’m not suggesting you should ignore guidance to wear shoes with good cushion and arch support. I’m just saying, giving your feet some room to breathe and rely on their own musculature for support can be good in moderation.
When I’m barefoot or in my flip flops, I make a point of noticing how my feet are contacting the ground. I explore my foot lock when standing. I feel more aware of finding equal standing in my feet. And, with my feet in closer or full contact with the ground, I feel more grounded.
The caveat here is, if you have any foot issues or diabetes, flip flops probably aren’t a good idea for you. Talk to your healthcare provider about it. And of course, wearing flip flops on uneven, slippery, or otherwise challenging terrain can put you at greater risk for falls.
14. A Great Yoga Bra
This is another beloved recent find. I don’t know about you, but I find many yoga tops don’t offer enough support. And since I often wear regular tops when practicing yoga, I need a good sports bra to wear under them. I can’t say enough good things about this new addition to my yoga life!
I’ll start with the most important feature. It offers the most comfortable support of any bra I’ve ever owned. It’s wireless (to me, that’s a must for a yoga bra). Yet it still manages to offer full support. It’s made of smooth and stretchy material, so it just molds to my body with no visible lines. And it’s surprisingly cheap!
It comes as a pack of 3, and you can find them here.
15. My Favorite Yoga Life Hack: Swimsuit Cover-Ups
I figured out this yoga life hack many years ago. I tend to wear my yoga clothes off the mat – around the house, when walking my dog, running errands, etc. But I don’t like to feel overly exposed. Yoga clothes are tight and revealing – more so than I feel comfortable wearing while out and about. I’ve found a swimsuit cover-up offers a stylish, comfortable way to add a layer of modesty to my yoga attire.
Tip: Scoop them up toward the end of summer, when they’re on-sale!
Yoga Props To Support Inner Growth On Your Yoga Life Journey
The last 2 yoga props I’d like to share help you grow in your yoga practice and facilitate personal growth. The term last but not least certainly applies here. These 2 suggestions can be a vital part of your yoga life.
16. My Favorite Yoga Books
There are many excellent yoga books out there, and I’ve read and loved a LOT of them. However, it wasn’t hard for me to choose which select few I wanted to recommend on this list. I consider these 4 books to be foundational to a full and enriched yoga life.
Yoga books support Svadhyaya – the niyama, or yogic observance, of self-study. To practice self-study means to study on one’s own the yoga teachings, as well as to study one’s self to gain insight and awareness that furthers our self-refinement. These books serve this purpose well. And they also guide you on the Jnana yoga path, which is the yogic path of knowledge and wisdom.
Bottom line, these books can:
- grow your knowledge of yoga
- infuse you with the life wisdom yoga has to offer
- help you develop all aspects of your yoga practice
- refine your body-mind-spirit system
Here’s what you can expect from each:
The Yoga Sutras (The Ultimate Guide To A Yoga Life)
The Yoga Sutras describe the 8-limbs of yoga and the processes of meditation. I’ve read several versions, and my favorite translation is the one given by Sri Swami Satchidananda. That may be because I’m American, and he was one of the most influential yogis called to bring yoga life to the West. He seems to have had a natural ability to impart the teachings in a way Westerners can absorb. I love how he explains complex topics in a simple and gentle manner.
Of course, you should choose whichever version of the sutras calls to you.
Beyond Words (My Favorite Yoga Prop for Learning Meditation)
While we’re on the topic of Satchidananda, let’s talk about Beyond Words. This is a less obvious book choice, because it’s not considered to be one of the core yoga texts. However, I found it to be one of the best yoga props for the portion of my yoga journey that focuses on gaining wisdom. I’ve read it multiple times over the years, and each time I resonate with new gems. In this book, Satchidananda opens up a treasure chest full of rich lessons for your yoga and meditation practices.
Expect to find brilliant parables and eloquent, eye-opening truths delivered as easy-to-grasp nuggets of wisdom that can guide not only your meditation practice, but your whole yoga life. You can purchase the book at the link provided above. Or, check out this free PDF download I recently came across!
The Bhagavad Gita (Learn About The Yoga Paths)
The Bhagavad Gita is considered to be one of the oldest and most well-known yoga texts. Written around 400 BC to 200 CE, it’s part of an epic Indian poem – the Hindu Mahabharata. The Gita is itself an epic poem. It tells the story of a conversation between Arjuna (a prince) and Krishna (a Hindu deity) that takes place on a battlefield. Arjuna is having second thoughts about proceeding into battle, because his opponents are members of his own family. However, Krishna calls him to duty, pointing out he has a role to play in the karmic battle with his family members, who have wronged him greatly.
Of course, since it’s a poem, the story isn’t really about going into physical battle. It offers a metaphor for the inner battle we all must face with our human nature in order to attain enlightenment. It can be seen as a guide for the mystic path. And a call to duty for every one of us to prevail over our inner doubts, resistances, and urges. To slay our demons – so to speak – so we may come to know God.
It describes the different yoga paths we can take – exclusively or together as one integrated journey – to accomplish this goal. These are karma (yoga of action or service), jnana (yoga of wisdom), raja (the royal path of meditation) and bhakti (yoga of devotion).
Light On Yoga (The Bible Of Modern Yoga)
Considered to be the definitive guide of modern yoga, Light On Yoga is filled with teachings on both the philosophy and physical practices of yoga. Composed by B.K.S. Iyengar, this comprehensive book offers guidance on all the yoga postures and breathing techniques, complete with photo illustrations. It even has an appendix that assigns “curative” postures for many physical ailments.
It’s an incredibly valuable resource for your yoga life.
17. A Journal: A Yoga Prop To Support Deep Inner Work
To close-out my list of favorite yoga props and yoga life essentials, we come to the humble blank pages of a journal. I say humble, yet the blank page represents the infinite potentiality of your yoga journey.
What will you dis-cover? How will you apply the teachings in a unique and deeply personal way to your own life? How will you translate what happens on your mat to your everyday life?
These are the kinds of questions you can explore in your yoga journal. While we learn from yoga teachers and texts, and we share experiences with our community of yoga practitioners, ultimately yoga is an individual path. We don’t get very far on it if we’re not contemplating what happens on our mat and all we encounter in our studies in a way that helps us integrate our yoga life experiences into profound inner change.
Of course you can do this kind of deep contemplation without a journal. But using a journal helps you focus on this self-study in an intentional way. Here are some things you might explore in your yoga journal:
- Physical sensations, thoughts, and emotions that come up for you on the mat. Including how they might be interconnected.
- Insights and ideas about areas of growth you want to explore more deeply in your yoga practice.
- Thoughts about how something your teacher said or something you read in a book relates to your personal experience.
- Goals for your yoga practice and how you plan to implement them.
- A record of your progress as you work to embody the yamas and niyamas. Including challenges you may come up against and how you might overcome them.
- Likewise, a record of your progress as you learn new postures and/or advance along your meditation journey.
Really, anything that feels pertinent to your yoga life can be identified, explored with curiosity, and given voice in your journal. This facilitates clarity, encouragement, commitment and wisdom in your practice. Which makes a yoga journal a very dynamic yoga prop.
And there you have it! I hope you found some inspiration for your practice from this list of yoga props and yoga life essentials. We’ve covered everything from the super practical to the deeply philosophical – just like a well-rounded yoga practice does.
Let me know what you think. Did I miss anything? Perhaps you have a go-to prop or yoga essential that serves your practice well. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!
May your yoga journey be enriched and supported in whatever way you most need right now.