How to Use Props to Enhance Your Yoga Practice
Props help us to find more space, freedom and stability throughout our yoga practice. They were introduced into the modern practice of yoga to allow all practitioners – regardless of physical condition, age, or ability – the need for added support.
With the use of props, each student is able to practice with greater effectiveness and ease. The most common misconception about props is that they are a form of weakness. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Every single person that steps onto their yoga mat could greatly benefit from the aid of props. Even the most advanced or flexible student could evolve their practice with the assistance of yoga props.
Here’s a look at the most common yoga props and how-to use them:
Blocks are used to bring the floor closer to the practitioner and to add more height and length to the poses. There are different shapes, sizes and textures to the blocks. There are cork blocks, which tend to be more durable and there are foam blocks, which tend to be more lightweight and provide more cushion. The standard size is 4 X 6 X 9 inches. There are three possible heights that can be used, depending on the posture. The block can be laid flat at the lowest height, placed on the edge at the middle height or stood on its end at the tallest height. Don’t have a block? Try a book!
Yoga poses to try with blocks:
- Supported forward fold
- Bridge pose
- Supported headstand
Using a strap helps to stabilize our joints, encourage flexibility, and create traction and space throughout the body. The strap is most commonly used to open up tight shoulders and hamstrings. Straps also come in different sizes. The most effective length is the 10-foot D-ring strap. The D-ring is a great locking mechanism and they’re easy to adjust. If you don’t have a strap yet, a belt or towel would suffice.
Yoga poses to try with your strap:
- Seated forward fold
- Reclining hamstring stretch
- Dancer’s pose
Bolsters come in different shapes and sizes, too. The most standard sized bolster measures 8 X 27 X 33 inches and weighs about five pounds. Bolsters do exactly what their name suggests: they bolster a part of the body in order to open, release or provide support. This can be very comforting and nurturing to the mind and body because it allows full muscle relaxation. Bolsters are common in a restorative or yin style class, where the postures are held longer. If you don’t have a bolster, substitute a pillow or cushion.
Yoga poses to try with a bolster:
- Supported child’s pose
- Reclining heart opener
Blankets function similar in a yoga class to the bolster. They’re great for extra padding or a height boost. They can also be used to weigh down or even heat the body. If you don’t have a blanket, you can use a towel. You can roll or fold the blanket as needed, depending on the posture.
Yoga poses to try with a blanket:
- Table top
- Half split
- Child’s pose
This tip is brought to you by Kathryn McCann of Hang Zen Yogis.