7 Ways to Use Yoga Props in Your Practice

 

Foam block

When it comes to gear­ing up for yoga, most peo­ple are con­tent keep­ing it sim­ple, requir­ing only their mats and their bod­ies to par­tic­i­pate. But check out that assort­ment of props tucked away in the cor­ner of your stu­dio: col­or­ful squishy blocks, cozy-look­ing bol­sters, and a tan­gle of straps, among oth­ers. If you’re used to approach­ing yoga with a min­i­mal­ist eye, con­sid­er switch­ing things up by incor­po­rat­ing yoga props into your prac­tice.

Sup­ple­ment Your Body
Every so often, you’ll encounter a pose that just doesn’t seem to click with your body. The pres­sure on your knee is legit­i­mate­ly painful, your leg is hyper­ex­tend­ing, or your neck is tweak­ing in a way that doesn’t feel good.

Enter the blan­ket: you can fold a blan­ket to be as thick or as thin as you want, and it can be a great way to pro­vide a bar­ri­er when you’re feel­ing painful pres­sure (like when you’re learn­ing inver­sions) or to sup­port joints that are hav­ing trou­ble stay­ing aligned.

Go Deep­er
When your teacher is pre­sent­ing vari­a­tions of a pose, it can be intim­i­dat­ing to try a vari­a­tion beyond what you’re used to. Props can help you progress your prac­tice: think of them as train­ing wheels that can be used for yogis at any lev­el.

For instance, a foam block is extreme­ly help­ful in stand­ing pos­es when you can’t quite reach the ground, when you need a lit­tle help bal­anc­ing, or to use as a cue for prop­er align­ment.

Grow Your Limbsstrap
“If only my arms were longer, maybe I’d be able to reach my foot.” 

If this sounds famil­iar to you, get acquaint­ed with the strap. The strap can, essen­tial­ly, extend your arms to reach your legs (or vice ver­sa), allow­ing you to melt into deep­er stretch­es that might not oth­er­wise be acces­si­ble to you.

Know When to Let Go
Props are great tools for deep­en­ing your prac­tice, but make sure you are not using them as a crutch. Always think about the pur­pose behind the prop you’re using, and how it is help­ing your prac­tice. If you’re doing two sets of a pose, con­sid­er using the prop in one set, and going pro­p­less in the sec­ond.

Not Just for Restora­tive Yoga
There’s a mis­con­cep­tion out there that props are meant for restora­tive styles of yoga only. While it’s true that props can make a restora­tive prac­tice feel mag­i­cal, they’re equal­ly use­ful to more yang styles of yoga.

Ditch Your Ego
Sim­i­lar­ly, some peo­ple have the idea that props are only for begin­ners, or that they’re a form of “cheat­ing” because they make a pose “eas­i­er.” If you feel these thoughts creep into your head, remind your­self that yoga isn’t about what you look like on the mat: it’s about what you feel in a pose. Using a prop to help with the phys­i­cal aspect of a pose can open up new pos­si­bil­i­ties in the men­tal realm.

Impro­vise
Props don’t have to come from a yoga spe­cial­ty store. You can find suit­able yoga props around your house, from shoe box­es to neck­ties, from couch cush­ions to rolling pins! Get cre­ative with your use of yoga