Whether you struggle to straighten your legs in triangle pose or wobble while trying to touch the ground in standing split, getting to a place of “om” when you feel unstable in your yoga practice can be challenging. Luckily, a plethora of yoga props can help bring balance and stability to your practice, whether you are a true beginner or a seasoned professional.
The purpose of props is to help practitioners modify yoga postures, or asanas, to better fit their needs and abilities. A prop can be any object that assists with stretching, strengthening, balance, relaxation, or alignment. Using a prop—from blocks and straps to the mat itself—in the proper manner can improve yoga practice in several ways.
BENEFITS OF YOGA PROPS IN YOUR PRACTISE
• Increase range of motion, flexibility, and strength.
• Help train the body to achieve proper alignment.
• Help prevent injuries and ensure old injuries have time to heal.
• Makes poses more sustainable by removing unnecessary struggle.
• Assist in holding poses for longer periods of time.
• Deepen tension release.
Here are some of the most popular options and how to use them.
BLOCKS – Blocks are primarily used for support by bringing the floor closer to you. The support of a block can help practitioners lengthen and extend to deepen and soften poses. Most commonly made of foam and cork.
How to use – Depending on the pose and level of support needed, blocks can be placed in three positions: flat (lowest height), on edge (middle height), or on end (tallest height).
Poses to try – Blocks help to reach the floor in poses such as triangle, pyramid, extended side angle, and half-moon. Blocks can also help support the hips in hero pose, pigeon, and supported bridge pose.
MAT – A good mat is the base to any yoga practice. There are a few key elements to consider when selecting the perfect mat: material, texture, thickness, and stickiness. Prices can range from £15 to £100 or more.
Poses to try – A good mat can be especially helpful in balance poses, or in any pose where the knees come into contact with the floor and need some cushion.
STRAP/BELT– A yoga strap or belt is great for increasing muscle flexibility and length, especially in poses that involve reaching the toes or binding the arms. They are available in many sizes; however, 10-foot is a good middle-of-the-road choice; plus, look for one with a D-ring locking system to assist adjustment.
How to use – Straps act as an extension of the arms or hands. For example, in seated forward fold, a strap placed around the balls of the feet can help deepen the pose for someone who cannot reach their toes on their own. Straps can also increase balance and strength, for example when used to provide a support structure to the upper arms in forearm stand.
Poses to try – Use as an extension of the hands and arms in seated forward fold, reclined hand-to-big-toe pose, standing extended hand-to-big-toe pose and binding poses.
BLANKET – Provide comfort and support in poses. Typically, thick and made of wool, and can be folded in any way to support the practitioner the best.
Poses to try – Offers support for sensitive knees in poses like camel or crescent. It also supports the hips in poses such as child’s pose (when place in the fold of the knees), pigeon (to support the hip of the forward leg), or lotus (to raise the hips, allowing for the knees to more easily come to the floor).
BOLSTER – Typically used in restorative or prenatal yoga classes to provide comfort and support when poses are held for a longer period of time. They are available in different shapes and sizes.
How to use – Bolsters are typically used in seated postures to bring the ground closer to the body and add support. Help practitioners soften into poses and relax enough to really stretch and deepen the practice.
Poses to try – Try supported child’s pose (kneel and place the bolster flat, lengthwise between the knees, and lay down so that the bolster supports your torso and head) and supported reclined back bend. May also use in elevated legs up the wall pose, or for added support in savasana.
Other props include:
- Yoga towel
- Wearable accessories
- Yoga wheel
No matter the props you use, the most important thing to remember is that they are all there to make yoga more accessible to each individual practitioner. And they are all optional. Play around with different props to find which ones most benefit your specific practice.
This month’s guest blog has been kindly submitted by Health Perch – A digital health magazine – and shared by Simply Soulful Yoga, with many thanks.
Simply Soulful Yoga offers a variety of yoga classes – and you are welcome to use props in all sessions.
- Hatha Yoga – Yoga asana is tailored to suit the individual and the use of blocks, belts, bolsters and blankets is encouraged.
- Yin Yoga – Relax and surrender to gravity with the use of blocks, belts, bolsters, blankets, eye pillows and sandbags.
- Flow Yoga – Unlike my other classes, use of props is not cued in this class, however you are very welcome to use a block or strap to support your practise if you wish.