Study your body and get real about your structural shape. Anything that might assist you with keeping your posture’s integrity is worthwhile. Have a yoga bag so you can just grab and go, although you may not need all your props in my class (see below).
What might you need to bring to class? Think about this.
Pillows/Blankets – Consider forward bends. Some of us need to sit on quite high pillows in order to create the freedom for the hips to move and the hamstrings to lengthen. You can have a play at home. If you can, sit in front of a full length mirror or film yourself from the side on your phone. Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you. What does that do to your hips? Many of us feel like it is a big effort to sit with our legs straight and outstretched. Often people can not sit there for any length of time before feeling discomfort in their back. If you have tight hamstrings the hips will be tilting with the bottom of the hips forward (being pulled there by the tight hamstrings) and the top of the hips tilted back. This makes it almost impossible to sit up straight and certainly makes it impossible to fold from the hip joints because your hip joints are pulled forward with the rest of your hips leaning backwards. (This is demonstrated in the picture above. This man has tight hamstrings and when he folds forward his hips lean back, his back arches and he folds from the lower or mid-back rather than the hip joints. He needs a fairly high pillow to allow his hips to move but even then he will not be able to fold forward very far).
There are special yoga pillows, I have a couple at home, and they are made of a very solid stuffing, unlike normal cushions for couches etc which generally just deflate down when you sit on them. Yoga pillows are heavy and solid and often about 10cm – 15cm thick. They can be quite expensive – around the $60 mark depending on the type, but they last. I have had both my crescent pillow and my meditation pillow for about 10 years and they have only flattened minimally.
You can also get a yoga strap, handy for stretches – lying on your back and using the strap around your foot for a safe hamstring stretch, or holding both ends and moving your arms up and down from front to back for a shoulder stretch – just to name a couple of movements, or a yoga block which can be used to support a posture if you cannot reach the floor and for various passive postures. You can buy these things online or, if you want to test the pillow height, which is handy, there is Yoga-King at Salisbury – a specific yoga store with lots of great things.