Get Ready for Yoga: Set-up and Props

Prepare Your Space

There are lots of benefits of being able to study online - enabling us to practise more easily at home and being able to study courses (like this one) to which we might not otherwise have access.

But, when practising Yoga at home, it is important to set ourselves up in a way that will allow us to get the most benefit. Here are some tips:

  • Make your Yoga space special - if you have a dedicated Yoga space that you keep clear and inviting, that is of course wonderful. More than likely, you do not, in which case do take the time to tidy up and remove (or, at least, cover) distracting clutter and any screens that you are not using to access this program. You might like to light a candle or add something meaningful to create a calming atmosphere.
  • Pause as you enter your space - when you come into your practice space (once you have prepared it), put anything you are carrying down and just pause for a moment on the threshold. This is a chance to make a clear separation between your daily life and your Yoga time and to tune into a sense of gratitude for your practice. You might like to sweep your hands down your body to help leave your cares and responsibilities outside before you step in.
  • Do your best to avoid disturbance - Turn notifications off on the device you are using to access the YCW program and leave any other electronic devices outside. And, if you are likely to be disturbed by family members, you might like to put a note on the door saying you are busy and don't want to be bothered (my 'No Entry' sign claims that I am busy with work as that seems to be more effective!)
  • Set up your screen well - I want to encourage you to be fully immersed in the felt senses of your multi-dimensional body as you practise Yoga, but there is no getting away from the fact that a computer or phone screen is a very 2D environment. So I recommend that you try to have some distance from your screen and to make a point of being very conscious of the space you are in and to feel your body grounded there, rather than letting yourself get absorbed into the 2D space. It is better to have a larger screen that you place further away, rather than a tiny phone or small computer screen right next to you. The bigger screen will also allow you to see me better and not have to strain. So, if you have an external monitor for your laptop or you can connect your laptop or phone to your TV (if you have modern devices, do an internet search for how to mirror a phone to a TV) that would be ideal. Obviously, I understand that none of this might be possible, so, in the end, just go with what you have. The screen/embodiment issue is one of many good reasons to repeat practices - the first time (or few times), you might find you have to closely follow along with what is going on onscreen, but the more you do that practice, the more you can instead absorb into yourself and your space - perhaps eventually doing it without me and your device … 

Recommended Yoga Props

You'll need different Yoga props for different practice videos in this program. Do try to have them ready near you before you start your Yoga practice, so you don't have to break out of it to gather them.

For all of them, you'll want a Yoga mat.

I also highly recommend you get yourself and have to hand:

  • Two Yoga 'blocks' and/or 'bricks' (otherwise you could use two big books of the same size) - nb blocks are flatter than bricks
  • A Yoga belt/strap (or a long dressing gown belt)
  • A small cushion or two
  • A blanket
  • An 18cm (or max 23cm) diameter soft, inflatable Pilates/Muscle Release/Exercise ball (I like these ones in the UK)
  • A simple hard chair
  • Whatever else you personally like for relaxing at the end of each session (you'll get to know quite quickly)

Other items that are great for final relaxation and/or are used occasionally in other practices (especially restorative) include:

  • A Yoga bolster (or you can make do with a pile of pillows or big cushions)
  • An eye pillow - or a piece of cloth, to cover your eyes when relaxing. Some find this very nourishing and some do not like it
  • Extra blankets
  • An old towel (to make a towelling roll)

We also sometimes make use of a wall.

In the introduction to each Yoga practice, I list the props that you'll need. But I won't include props (blankets, cushions etc) that are only used for final relaxation.

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

We begin many Yoga sessions sitting and, for some, we might remain seated throughout. Establishing a well-aligned sitting position is not only important for your comfort but also vital for the effectiveness of your Yoga practice.

We'll be refining this as we work through the program, but here are some basic guidelines to get you off to a good start.

  • Feel free to choose between sitting down on your mat or sitting on a chair. There is no qualitative difference between these choices.
  • If sitting down on the floor is new to you, but it is something you'd like to do, then start by staying there for only a short time before perhaps shifting to a chair. Then you can try increasing the time you stay down on your mat gradually. If we are doing a longer seated practice, you might want to choose to sit on a chair from the start so that you do not get distracted by discomfort in your body.
  • Whether you are on your mat or on a chair, position yourself so that 1) your hips are (at least slightly) higher than your knees; 2) your pelvis is aligned so you feel yourself sitting up on the base of your sit bones; 3) your upper body can balance itself comfortably over this base, with the natural curves of your spine extending upwards. Work through these in this order as 2) and 3) will be really hard if 1) is not in place. As you settle yourself, let the felt sensation within your body be your guide, adjusting as needed for comfort and ease.
  • If you are sitting down on your mat in a cross-legged position, use props (blocks, folded blankets, cushions, bolsters) to elevate your pelvis as much as necessary to allow you to find the above alignment. To help find the perfect position for you right now, experiment with adding and removing support from under your pelvis so that you go too high (causing your pelvis to roll too far forward) and too low (causing your pelvis to roll too far back). As you do this, feel into the effect that has on the point of contact of your sit bones and the position of your torso and spine - and, in turn, the level of tension in your body. Experiment too with sitting with your legs crossed so your knees are closer and your feet are below them on the floor or so your knees are further apart and released down onto the floor with your feet more central. You'll find that it feels more natural for you to have one particular leg on top/in front, but do be sure to swap the cross of your legs each time you come to your mat to maintain harmony in your hips and pelvis.
  • If your crossed-legged posture is not comfortable, try adapting your support and your position. This might mean seeing if kneeling (with a bolster or cushions to raise your pelvis) works for you or sitting on a chair.
  • If you are sitting on a chair, be sure that it has a firm base (perhaps with a cushion on it for comfort). Then sit towards the edge of the chair (try not to lean into the back of it, unless you absolutely need this for support), with your feet parallel and planted on the floor about hip-width apart. Then work with the same principles (starting with hips slightly higher than knees) to bring your body into a sustainably upright, aligned and comfortable position.

© 2022 Tiffany Bown NurtureWorks