I've always been a firm believer that in order to practice yoga all you need is yourself, your mat, and the willingness to begin. No props, no fancy clothes, not even any music. That has certainly changed over the years and in experimenting with my own self-practice! I still believe that for the most part this is true (particularly the willingness part!) but I do think there are some lovely things that you can use and incorporate to create a more enjoyable and fulfilling practice. So here I'm sharing a few of the things I've integrated over the years:
I often share my yoga playlists on my website. I used to only think that music for yoga meant meditative chants and nature sounds. I remember one of my first teachers incorporating songs that I listened to in my free time and thought that was pretty cool. Why couldn't you practice to music you already know and love? Now I'm always changing it up, sometimes keeping in a few favourites. And I love finding great songs to zone out to in savasana.
Specifically Palo Santo. I absolutely love this wood and often burn it upon waking and before I go to sleep in the evening. The name literally means "Holy Wood' and its known for cleansing the negative energies around us and can even be healing for when we feel unwell and to lift our moods. I've found it to be very helpful to burn a little just before I meditate as well as before I begin a yoga practice. To me, it has a lovely cedar-y citrus scent.
Before I discovered Palo Santo I was incorporating essential oils and often times still do. Lavender is wonderfully soothing for an evening practice while something such as bergamot is energizing during the daytime.
It's only been very recently that I've added to my mala bead collection. I originally had a necklace and bracelet that I brought back with me from Bali after I completed my first yoga teacher training. While I originally bought these because I found them pretty (and quite frankly, everyone I saw had some dangling on them!) they came to be much more than that. Having always struggled with just "being" while attempting to meditate I found that having the beads in my hand gave me a focus. They are similar to that of a rosary in Christianity and have all sorts of meanings depending on the beads used to create them.
Okay, I know it sounds hippie-dippie when you probably think of crystals and I was pretty skeptical about them in the beginning but now I love them. Much like my mala beads, I have found the crystals I have to be super helpful when meditating. Personally, I find having a focus even if that is a physical one, really helps me to relay that into a mental focus. The feeling of a crystal in my hand, the shape, the colour, the properties of each one really evoke a certain mood. My amethyst feels very calming and relaxing, the rose quartz very warming, and my favourite blue kyanite has allowed me to establish a more settled meditation practice.
For someone like myself who never quite grasped the whole "setting an intention for your practice" deal, angel cards have been really handy for that. They've also been very insightful in dealing with everyday things.
Despite their name, they do not hold a religious sentiment rather, they hold a spiritual element in however way you see fit.
Sometimes we have bad days or even bad weeks, or we lose focus of things that are important or where we feel we should be going in our lives. Angel cards can be very beneficial in dealing with these situations. Some days I'll simply use them before I begin my yoga practice while others, I'll use them in the evening after a long day. Often times, I'll pull them out when I'm feeling unsettled or anxious and find that whatever comes up is often exactly what I need. There is no right or wrong way to use them.
The above may seem like a lot of items and even indulgent in the practice of yoga and meditation. They are definitely not items you need in order to be able to practice. Some days we have an hour set aside for a session without distraction and other days we have five minutes before we go to sleep to stop and focus on the breath. These are ideas of things you can add to create a more nurtured practice with whatever time you have.