Yoga/Chi Accessories

These useful accessories are available at Amazon or, in some cases, at Bed Bath and Beyond. Use them to enhance your yoga experience and for the chi-raising exercises described in the Bench Yoga book. Eventually they will be available here. In the meantime, please order them using the links below. Your purchases will help to support our work!

This kind of Half-Size Support Bolster ($37.10, available in a variety of colors) is fantastic for doing supported backbends on the bench. Can also be used to cushion the knees when doing kneeling poses, and supporting the body during forward bends. But the supported backbend is the #1 reason for having it. It's perfect for the Reclining Warrior and Leaning Vajrasana poses.
This is the kind of Yoga Block you want for your practice ($20 for 2). They're light, strong, and 4 inches wide on the edge, which gives you stable support when they're on edge. You want two, so you can position a block lower with one hand while supporting yourself on the other.

Note: A block on the floor gives you three support heights. The bench gives you a fourth. A block on the bench gives you three more, for a total of seven stable support heights, with only a few inches between them.
Taking your meditation bench to a yoga class is a great idea. When you want to take a break, or simply want to meditate, the bench is right there to let you do it. And if you need support, the bench is there to assist you.

But what do you do about a hardwood floor? You can't very well put your bench on your mat. (It was designed to be wide enough to sit cross-legged, and to allow a mat to fit under the bench!) And you certainly don't want to take a chance on marking up the floor.

The All Season Mat ($12.99) from Bed, Bath, and Beyond is your answer! It's 24 in. x 36 in. width easily accommodates the bench, and it's microfiber construction creates a high-friction surface that resists slipping. Plus, it's thin, light, and easy to carry. Buy one today! (Your purchase supports our efforts!)
This bean-filled Small Support Cushion ($17.16) can be used on top of a yoga block to support the upper leg, to support the heel, or even to support the lower leg. But it can also be used when healing the meniscus (cartilage) inside the knee.

There are some great YouTube videos showing how it can be done by sitting on the end of a table and swinging your legs@mdash;great if you have table you can sit on that's tall enough. All of the demonstrators were using a chiropractor's table. I don't have one of those, so I do one leg at a time on the Yoga Meditation Bench.

To do it, put one foot up on the bench, and rest a yoga block on that leg. A cushion goes on the yoga block, with a long, one-inch dowel-rod on top of it. The other yoga block goes on the bench in an upright position, to the outside of the knee I'm working on. Another cushion goes on top of that block.

I hold one end of the rod in place on the leg that's on the bench, put the other end under my knee, then lift my knee and rotate the rod so that end comes up. I then grab the rod outside my knee and rest it on the cushion on that side. The cushions protect the yoga blocks, while helping to keep the rod in place. I brace the arrangement with my arms, and swing the damaged knee for a count of 108@mdash;one, two, or three times. (I'm happy to say that the knee is showing signs of improvement!)

Learn more: Healing the Knees.
The Segmented Yoga Strap ($12.98, multiple colors) is perfect for the strengthening activators that are part of the Bench Yoga program. Those safe, effective isometric exercises automatically work your body at whatever level is right for you. And using the breath, they become meditative, chi-raising activities. The straps can also be used to assist forward bends, among other uses. The segments make the strap easy to grasp at various points, without fear of slipping.
I use a Standard D-Ring Yoga Strap ($9.49, in a variety of colors) to keep my Yoga Mat rolled up, so I always have a strap at hand when I'm in a class. It's a little harder to hold than the segmented strap, but you can grasp it at exactly the point you need.

I strap the mat the way pupils used to carry their books back in the olden days: First, the end of the strap goes through both rings at the end, but then I form the end of the strap into a loop, and pull the loop through the top ring. When you pull on the loop, the strap cinches tight. But when you pull on the free end, the whole thing comes undone, and the mat is ready to be unrolled.
The Half Round Foam Roller ($12.95) is great for stretching the calves. Use the bench, a chair, or a wall for balance to stretch both at the same time. (Downward Dog is supposed to, but frankly, this sort of thing is generally more effective.)
The 12-inch long Tai Chi "Ruler" ($39.98), also known as a Tai Chi "Ban", is ideal for the wrist-action strengthening activators. The muscles of the forearms allow the wrists to move in 6 different directions. The strengthening energy activators taught in the Bench Yoga Workshop exercise them in all 6 directions. The "Ruler" can also be used for Tai Chi and Qigong practice
This Acyrlic Lucite Rod ($14.99) is a less expensive version of the official "Tai Chi Ruler". At 12 inches long with a 1-inch diameter, it is the perfect size. Of course, an even less expensive option is to get a 1-inch dowel from your local lumber yard, and cut it down to 12 inches. But this option is offered for your convenience.
Don't be fooled by the title! This "Easy Yoga for Seniors" video by Pat Laster is the most well-paced yoga instruction I know. It's available at Amazon, it can also be viewed on my YouTube channel.

The video includes a pranayama (breath) segment, and there is plenty of time for meditation between asanas as Pat gives instructions for beginners. It's always possible to make the practices more strenuous if you know some yoga—a lot easier than it would be for a beginner to figure out how to make things easier! So it's a great video to use in a group setting. (At my housing complex, a bunch of us follow along with the video every week!)