There a number of items that will make the classes easier and more enjoyable, but I am aware that not everyone will have these, or have the money to spare, or want to spend the money on tools.
General Equipment List
- Yoga mat. To be honest, a yoga mat is not necessary. However, it really helps to make the floor a bit more comfortable. This is especially true with hard floors. There is also something ritualistic in placing your mat down and committing to doing some self care.
Alternative: You can place a couple of towels down, BUT these need to be on a non-slip surface.
- Cushions and pillows. Useful for both Yoga and MFR Self Care classes. Having these to hand can help support the head when lying down for MFR self care, but can also help to ease the knees and/or feet when kneeling in yoga.
Yoga Class specific
- Yoga Belt. Used in my Yoga classes in different poses when it’s hard to reach the foot leg, or the other hand.
Alternative: A luggage strap is good, or an actual clothing belt, or a couple of men’s neck ties knotted together (maybe don’t use your best) or a scarf. I don’t generally suggest therabands as the elasticity can make them feel too unstable.
- Block. Used in my Yoga classes.
Alternative: A book or two, possibly into a pillow case (to hold the pages together).
MFR Self Care specific.
- Ball. Used in the MFR Self Care classes. Ideally a range of balls is helpful, e.g. A spikey ball, a 10cm soft ball. but a tennis ball or two is a good start. I will revisit balls further down the page.
Alternative: wadding up socks to make a ball work at a push.
- Foam roller. Used in the MFR Self Care classes. I recommend a 90cm long foam roller as you can lie along it and it supports the whole length of your spine. There are shorter ones covered in lumps for Myofascial work, I’m really not convinced the lumps do much, but they can be more convenient to store as they’re not so long.
Alternative: Two towels rolled up and secured by elastic bands work. The advantage of a towel over an actual foam roller is that you can vary the thickness of the roll. The disadvantage of the towel is you can’t use it as a roller.
- A Peanut. Used in the MFR Self Care classes. This is a double ball headed tool that looks like a peanut. You can get them in different densities.
Alternative: Two balls and sock. Place one ball into the sock to the end, then tie a knot next to the first ball, then place the other ball in. The knot helps provide a space for the spine. It doesn’t have to be balls, but some other spherical objects, I’ve heard of someone using onions in a sock before now.
Myofascial Release UK (MFR UK) who I trained with in SMFRTherapy do a start up bundle of a ball, a foam roller and a peanut. They come with a small bag and a carry strap. Price is £50 delivered (UK) and can be bought directly from them.
There are many different types, sizes and firmness of balls. Many are sold as being Myofascial balls, these tend to be really firm, if not downright uncomfortably hard. The following are a selection of balls that I find useful.
- 10cm (4inch) ball. This is a mainstay of the Myofascial Self Care classes and does not have to be very hard to be effective as you spend quite some time on the ball. A hard ball is just really uncomfortable and you will find it difficult to relax onto it. These are the green balls that I give to my clients for self care. They can be purchased on Amazon, but you might also need a pump with a thin nozzle to inflate.
- Spikey ball. These are good to provide a different sensation into the system and they come in different firmness, I prefer the slightly softer ones, which for me is a yellow one.
- Tennis balls. Very versatile, and because they are smaller than the green balls can be more focussed in the application of pressure. One word of caution I would suggest is that you pay slightly more than in the Pound Shop as those can split with any amount of pressure.
- Golf balls. These can be very useful for firm areas, like the sole of the feet, but don’t launch yourself onto them as they are really hard.
- Lacrosse Balls, Cricket balls, and Myofascial Ball sets. These are a good size and they are significantly firmer than a tennis ball. You don’t need to brutalise your system for it to be effective, they add different sensations into the system but can be more than you can tolerate.
- 7” pilates ball. This is a delightful luxury, especially if you half inflate it: it can be a wonderful pillow for the head. And it can be used to support different areas of the body.
Sources of equipment
These are the websites that I have found useful for getting equipment. I have no affiliation to them or receive any money from them. There are many other websites and I only mention these as they are who I have purchased equipment from and found the equipment to be of a good quality.
You will be taken to external websites for which I have no control and you will need to take responsibility for ordering from them. If you want specific advice on what items then please get in touch via my contact form. If you do have any issues then let me know.
Oh, and I am NOT wanting to become an affiliate or promoter for any companies so will refuse to answer emails like that.
Myofascial Release UK (MFR UK): As I said above, this is the complete SMFRTherapy start up pack. They are my teachers in SMFRTherapy, and so they have chosen the foam roller, ball and peanut specifically.
The Mad Group (used to be Yoga-Mad or Pilates Mad): This is where I got my original yoga mat, belt and blocks from and they are still really good.