My yoga instructor once told me: "As long as you are breathing, you can do yoga. Breath is the only tool you need to do yoga.”

Now, you may be wondering if the advice above is literal, and whether you don't need any props to support your practice.

On a general note, you don't need any props to assist in your yoga practice.

However, if you are planning to take your practice to another level, you need help from methods (read props) that extends beyond your instructor.

A young, flexible, and strong person might not need any props to help him/her to achieve a posture, but for someone older, less flexible, and more prone to injuries, props may come in handy.

Household items such as pillows, bolster and blankets, can double up as props, besides products which are specifically manufactured to make yoga easier and more enjoyable.

Let's see the 5 must-have yoga props that will take your yoga practice to the next level:

1. Yoga Mat

This is the most important item in your checklist. Yoga mat is used to prevent the hands and feet from slipping during asana practice. It gives comfort and support, and some mats relieve pressure points in yoga postures and protect the wrists, knees, elbows, head, neck, and ankles. This prop is needed the most when practising on a hard surface.

2. Yoga Blocks

This ia a rectangular piece of cork or foam that is used to make the practice of yoga a lot easier. It can be used to facilitate many yoga poses, especially the ones that involve standing stretches. Practitioners who are still a bit unsteady, and may not be as flexible as others, particularly in standing positions that involve twisting the body and maintaining balance, use the blocks as support. Besides providing comfort during practice, these blocks help improve the alignment of one's body.

3. Yoga Straps

Straps are mainly used for stretching so that the users achieve a wide range of motion. The strap is commonly used to help get into, and maintain challenging poses that might otherwise, be out of reach for practitioners. They are often used for bound poses when one hand cannot meet the other, or when a foot that needs to be grasped is too far away. It is also used for restorative or heart opener poses, when the shoulders are tight.

4. Comfortable Yoga Apparel

Yoga clothing is an essential part of a regular yoga practice. The clothing allows for fluid movement and wicks the sweat from the body. So, comfortable clothing is important and knowing the right kind of shirts, leggings and shorts can make people feel more comfortable doing certain poses.

5. Yoga Ball

Yoga ball can assist a practitioner to strengthen and stretch the body, improve core stability and balance. Using yoga ball as a chair forces the practitioner to balance themselves, and helps with posture and strengthens the core. Overall, it helps improve posture, muscle balance, back and spine health, and enhances one's flexibility, especially in back bending, and core stability.

Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.

Photo source: Pixabay