First and foremost I apologize for being so incredibly lax in my Kate Asana posts… I’ve been blogging much more frequently over at my general blog, Katastrophic Thoughts, and of course working full time at And you know, life gets in the way.

Anyways, yoga is still a big part of my life and I make sure that I make time to practice on my own and in classes several times a week. I have also been very lucky to have a wonderful woman as a private student for that last year.

I was teaching my final summer yoga class in the park last August when a woman approached me and asked if I taught privately. It was perfect timing since I had just started my full time job and my time to teach, plan and promote regular classes was vanishing. Sometimes life works out perfectly like that.

I have really enjoyed teaching one-on-one, not only do I get to tailor lessons exactly to what the student wants to learn but I’ve been able to see her progress, and witness those wonderful yoga epiphany moments (you know what I’m talking about — like the first time you balance in crow). I’ve also ended up with a new friend (and our husbands even go to comic book trivia together, so its win-win-win!)

At any rate, something struck me while I was planning our next lesson that I thought could be universally useful:  The Power of Props.
It’s been said (and I believe) that you really don’t need anything but your own body, breath and mind to do yoga. And while you technically don’t even need a mat to practice, I have found that a few basic props can make a big difference for both beginners and seasoned yogis.

Here is the first installment highlighting a few of my favorite props and some ideas for how to use them in your practice:

A Wall.
This is one that everyone should have (although in small NYC apartments it can be hard to find one with enough space so I use a securely closed door). Doing certain asanas against the wall can help with balance and stability as well as alignment.

Handstand at the wall
Handstand can be a challenging pose to master, but coming into a short down dog about a foot away from the wall and kicking one leg up to touch the wall can help you reach this variation much more easily.  Once you are up, you can play with bringing your feet away from the wall to gain strength and balance. Come out slowly back into your short down dog. Important Handstand Info: Bring Your shoulders over your wrists and plant your hands firmly, really push into the floor. Look a few inches ahead of your  hands. Bring your shoulders away from your ears and engage your core. Breathe.

Half Moon at the Wall (with a block)
This balancing pose can be tricky when you are first learning it (or forever… balance is a tricky thing). Many people have the tendency not open their chest of hips fully (keeping the front of your body pointed fully or partly at the ground while just lifting your arm and leg). Starting in Warrior II against the wall, slowly start to tip yourself forward, keeping the back of your body against the wall. Your front hand should land on a block that you have strategically placed six inches in front of your foot. Front toes = pointing forward (don’t let those suckers move to the side which they will want to do but it’s not doing your knee any favors) Flex your back foot so those toes are pointing straight out and that leg coming straight out from your hip. Keep your back body against the wall (including that lifted arm).  Don’t sink into the hand that’s on the block, the block is just there because you don’t have monkey arms and you are bringing the floor Your gaze can be wherever works for you.

Chair pose at the Wall

Chair pose is one of those love to hate asanas, but it’s also called “powerful pose” for a reason. To get the alignment right when you are first starting out, because it takes some of the work out of your thighs. I did a video a few years ago explaining chair pose at the wall.

(So I’ll let that do the explaining…take it away Kate!)

There are lots of other yoga poses that you can do at the wall (Tree,Headstand  and Triangle are few other good ones).

Next post: Blocks, blankets and straps (Oh my!)