Beginner's Guide: Yoga Props

I used to dislike using yoga props. Why? Because I thought I could do the poses without them and didn’t need any help, thank you very much. I’ve since seen the error of my ways, and have felt in my body the difference that a skillfully used prop can make: to deepen a pose, to make a pose more accessible, or to help the body relax into a pose. Here are the most common props used in classes, and how you can incorporate them into your yoga practice!

 

Blocks

This is one of the most popular props, and for god reason. It can be used on the shortest height setting, medium height setting, or tallest height setting, which makes it versatile depending on your goal. You can use the block to bring the ground up to you, for example in triangle pose if the lower arm doesn’t reach the floor. You can use it under the hip in half pigeon to bring the hips to the square alignment, or under your forehead in half pigeon to give you something to relax into. You can sit on one for meditation, to bring the hips up and allow yourself to sit more comfortably for a longer period of time. Blocks can be used in nearly any pose to do multiple things, and are relatively inexpensive, so it’s a nice tool to add to your yoga arsenal if you practice at home.

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Strap

How great are straps?! They can be used for a standard hamstring stretch, or to magically extend your arms when you just can’t reach that bind and need some help. (Or when you want to write a message in cursive...?) On the days where anything resembling touching your toes just isn’t gonna happen, grab your trusty strap. One other use I love is strapping my legs together in legs up the wall, the strap keeps your legs from falling apart and helps you relax just that little bit more. If you don’t have a strap, there are a bunch of things at home you can use, like a kitchen towel, a tie, or a belt. Get creative with what you have around and you’ll be able to find something that will work.

Bolster

Bolsters might just be my favorite part of a restorative practice. These giant pillows are great at supporting your bent leg during a supine twist, or for leaning back on in reclined poses. Try a seated forward fold, standing the bolster up to support your forehead and upper body. Try taking a restorative class to learn more about ways to use the bolster! These can be more expensive to buy, but good news: firm pillows work just as well, especially if you can roll the pillow up into the shape of a bolster. One trick for Savasana with a bolster: place it under your knees for the entire length of the pose to help take any stress off the low back, and be amazed at how comfortable and Zen-like you feel.

Blanket

This hopefully should not require an explanation, but here goes: you can use blankets during Savasana or other restorative practices to keepyour body warm. You can also use them as padding in poses! Need something between the wood floor and your knee besides your mat? Put a blanket there and make it softer. Sit with your hips on a blanket to elevate them over your knees if you have trouble sitting comfortably. Also, the blanket can be rolled up like a bolster-shaped blanket burrito and used accordingly, so get crackin'.