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.
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 Limbs
“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.
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