8 Ways a Hand Towel Can Support Your Yoga Practice
A simple tool for your mind-body movement practice
Props are a great way to support and enhance your practice, but props can be costly, especially if you are buying for a whole class. As a teacher, lugging around bricks, bolsters, straps, mats, and blankets can get tiresome, fill up your car, and, keeping props clean is essential for student health and safety but quite time consuming.
However, there is a great prop that is probably already in your cupboard, is easy to carry, your students can all bring their own which is much more hygienic than shared props, and, has so many uses.
What’s this magical prop? Behold, the humble hand towel!
Here are 8 ways that I’ve found a hand towel (or travel towel) has supported my practice. Try them all, and then if you’ve got some ideas, please share them at https://www.facebook.com/yogatrinity
Slidey hands in Down Dog or arm balances: lay your towel on the top of your mat once you are sweaty and it will help you stick. In poses like Crow, if your knees are sliding off your sweaty armpits, tuck your towel in there to provide some grip.
Wrist Support: use your towel under the heels of your hands (not fingers) by folding your towel in two or four lengthwise (depending on how much support you need) and place under the top-edge of your mat, about a foot (30cm) down, so it can support your wrists every time you come to Plank, Chaturanga, Up Dog, and Down Dog. It’s under your mat so it doesn’t unroll or trip you up when you come to standing or Warrior 1.
Arm Extender: anytime you can’t reach a body part, or to reach it would require you to lose technique or balance, use your towel! Around your feet in seated forward folds, behind your back to find a bind, or around your shins for Bow or Knees to Chest.
Pulling Power: Yoga does a lot of pushing, but not enough pulling, so you can add these key movements by using your towel between your hands to add some rowing/pulling repetitions to poses like Warrior 1, Locust, Goddess, or even Staff Pose.
Head Hammock: for supine (lying on your back) core exercises that have you bringing your head off the ground. If you find you have a lot of neck tension here, or your neck flexors are weak and need some support, lay your head on your towel, hold the edges with your hands, and bring the towel with you like a ‘head hammock’ to provide some support.
Neck Support: for those who find that tilting your head back causes discomfort or dizziness (poses like Inclined Plane, Fish, or Upward Bow) use your towel around your neck to support the back of your head and reduce your neck extension. Note: You can use an elastic band or hair clip around the ends to hold the towel in place.
Restorative Fish: this is great for those with ‘tech neck’, rounding in upper back, soreness in neck, or those wanting a subtle, sweet stretch. Roll your towel and place under your upper back lengthwise, about at armpit level, and rest for 5-10 minutes
Eye Pillow: if you find that light disturbs you or your eyes are restless in Savasana or relaxation, fold your towel over your eyes and forehead to reduce the stimulation of light
Heather Agnew, Yoga Trinity