Thursday, October 24, 2013


Here I am, back again, to tell you about 3 new purchases which fall into the stress reduction shopping category. Note: Before we get there, there's a big-ass preamble about my yoga practice and Iyengar props. If you're disinterested in those topics (and I won't hold it against you), but love new stuff, then head on down to the section called Here's the Loot...

Big-Ass Preamble

Y'all know I'm working actively to reduce headaches and all of the other miseries associated with hormonal transition. (Don't want to overstate the badness of hormonal transition, BTW. The majority of my issues is more irritating than miserable.)

I wrote recently about doing 45 minutes(ish) of yoga 5 days(ish) a week. In my immoderate fashion, that's turned into an hour and a half, more or less daily, which is, on the one hand, taking up a ridiculous amount of time but is, on the other hand, having a notable impact.

How does 45 minutes turn into 90? Truth is, Iyengar yoga is a deliciously creative undertaking. Depending on the desired action (not outcome), I often work into poses over a variety of variations, using all kinds of props. Add in 20 minutes of inversions and it's almost impossible to practice for less than an hour. Time really does fly.

Moreover, there's nothing like being with an awareness of one's body, for hours at a time, to add to the creative process. Or to make one aware that the yoga room needs a bit of new-prop enhancement. :-)

Don't misunderstand (and I suspect you don't): My sewga room is very adequately stocked. I have more props than most, likely because I practice the kind of yoga, the founder of which is, if not the inventor, then certainly is the refiner of the concept of  "the modern yoga prop". Partly, I'm just the kind of girl who believes in that adage about the best tools for the job. Partly, my body requires these props to ensure that I'm maximizing the deep experience of a pose while minimizing any risk of injury to my physical structure. 

I should probably segue briefly here to clarify that the Iyengar method doesn't employ props primarily as a remedial tool. It uses them for all kinds of reasons (alignment, precision), in all kinds of ways. The same prop, applied differently in the same pose, can make that pose far "simpler" or far more "complex" than the version one does with no prop at all. And it goes without saying, I'm not speaking about the prop basics that have been integrated into the broad yoga world: the mat, the towel, the odd block, the belt.

In fact, if I didn't think it would be the least read post ever, I'd list out an inventory of yoga props, in order of usefulness (from my perspective, of course), with the aim to help others in planning for home practice. Part of the issue, when it comes to popularizing props in the broader yoga community, is that most yogi(ni)s - even those with long-standing practice - have not been schooled in their use. It's all well and good to be philosophically on board - and knowledgeable about asana - but it takes quite a bit of time to learn how to competently use the broader and more complex range of props (which are then applied zillions of ways). But enough about this.

Here's The Loot...

My yoga stash is rich - though not bloated - in blocks and boards and bolsters and rounds and sandbags etc. What it needs an upgrade in is belts. I'm kind of embarrassed to tell you I've been using the same two belts (only one of which I really like) for YEARS.  I've tried, occasionally, to replace the one I like, but I haven't been able to find another one anywhere. Well, that is, till I went on eBay and typed in every ridiculous key word I could think of. Having said this, I just looked it up and it appears that Yoga Accessories has almost every kind of belt in the world, and at excellent prices.

Here's what it looks like:

6' Pinch Buckle Cotton Yoga Strap
Why do I like it? That pinch clasp is the best thing ever. Have you ever been pretzeled 5 different ways and needed to free yourself, like, right now? Undoing a stiff cinch belt can be inelegant to say the least. The pinch clasp is a quick release option! Note: I can only speak for the one I've had for 15 years, but the cinch has never popped open (even when I was in a pose in which I put the majority of my body weight against it).

One other belt I bought, having multiple adjustable loops, and the sort of which I've never seen before, is this one by Yogue Yoga:
Belt and Photo found here...
I bought mine on eBay for a much better price than the one sold on the proprietary site, so look around if you intend to purchase one of these... Strangely, there's a whole form of yoga dedicated to this strap which looks, let's be frank, like some sort of sex toy. Whatevs, I can predict many uses (of the yoga variety) for this particular belt. I'll keep you posted on how it works...

Alors, the pièce de résistance is, natch, the expensive prop. It also happens to be tremendously useful for me at the moment given that I'm aiming for 10 minutes of headstand daily - and my body frequently goes into days-long muscular spasm (every muscle you can think of becomes a rock) concurrent with the onset of a migraine. I have to do everything I can NOT to precipitate the muscular spasm and putting lots of weight on my head/arms for extended periods of time can push me over the edge. Weirdly, I can do active shoulder stand and variations with little concern. Note: "Body spasm", as I affectionately refer to it, often occurs when I do nothing at all, but it's also caused by anything you can think of. I do unsupported headstand when it seems viable, which these days is not often. For the foreseeable future, this is going to save my ass.

What am I talking about? The Feet Up headstander by Yoga Matters:

BTW, you can do so much more with this prop than a headstand, so you should def check out the website. I am exceedingly pleased with it and have used it daily, in a variety of ways, since it arrived.

A couple of key things:
  • The shipping on this was offensive - £63.00, people (aka $106.00 CDN), for a thing that ships flat and weighs 11 pounds. And the prop itself is not cheap. Despite my every effort to get it delivered more affordably, I was thwarted at each turn. If you're in Canada, good luck defraying the shipping. US vendors, of which there are very few, wouldn't ship it to Canada. If you find a system, I want to know! On the plus side, the headstander arrived in 3 business days, beautifully packaged and in perfect shape. And, as props go, it's not ugly.
  • This is an example of a prop that makes a pose "easier" and more accessible, for sure, but it still takes quite a lot of core strength and yoga experience to use this thing - even if you set it up at a wall. So, if you must have one (and really, I think everyone must! :-)), please make sure you know the principles of active headstand first. This is not a toy - well, unless you do lots of yoga!
I suppose I should stop now - this post is a veritable book, but if you want more deets about any of these props, let me know in the comments. 

Today's questions: Do you use yoga props? If yes, which is your go-to? Do you think spending 250 bucks on a headstander is insane? Let's talk.


  1. Wow. I dabbled in yoga briefly in University, took a class or two in India, and nothing since... I've never seen of heard of any of these props! I would *love* to read your post of how they are used and which are most useful! One of the pleasures of sewing blogs is learning the other niche interests of sewists! Teach us, of wise prop-obsessed one!

    1. OK, the fact that you've taken a class in India is not negligible! :-) I suspect that these yoga posts bore the crap out of people, so let me lull them into a false sense of security before pulling out the prop inventory...

  2. Hi K :)
    I hope everything is great with you,
    I'm trying to start blogging again..... and I'll be doing a Link up party every Sundays.
    Would you like to join me? I hope so.
    All the best

    1. Hey N - hope you're well. I'll check it out...

  3. Love the headstander...thats a serious piece of kit! I think not spending the money on it would be insane if its going to help reduce the migraines and spasms.

  4. Glad to hear the cadillac of props arrived safe and sound. As for your questions, I don't practice yoga, let alone use props but I can probably be persuaded to spend a lot of money on the delivery charges for props for one of my hobbies.

    1. It IS the cadillac of props - so well said! And I know you believe in being prepared for the hobbies. So we're on the same page :-)