Fitness enthusiasts who want to break free of the ubiquitous gym workout and try something different could start off with a Yoga mat and a series of beginner sessions to learn the basic Yoga poses.

Those who have been practising Yoga for a while may be considering using different types of equipment to enhance their poses and improve their posture.

According to Charlotte Watts, a nutritional therapist, Yoga teacher and co-author of The De-Stress Diet, a Yoga belt, blocks and a blanket are three key items for the intermediate Yoga devotee.

A belt can be used to help binding when we can’t quite reach, she said, especially in poses where we are lying down and straightening out our legs. "A tie or scarf can work at the beginning," she noted.

Blocks - or even a phone directory - can be used to prop up our lower back in seated positions or placed under the head for neck support for lying down poses.

"Several [blocks] are always useful to practise poses where some height from the floor helps us open up, to lift the chest and top shoulder away from a hand on the floor for instance," the Yoga expert explained.

A folded blanket can always be used instead of a block, or you could stack up several blankets and use them in place of a Yoga bolster for restorative poses.

"Pulled around the front shins, this can help support the legs in seated or meditation postures to stop pain in the outer shins or gripping in the knees. They are also useful to place on mats for comfort and to facilitate ’letting go’," Ms Watts said.

"Maybe most importantly, to create a feeling of warmth and safety in savasana (final relaxation) so you can truly focus on the breath and releasing into the whole of the body."

Posted by Freya Harper