If you've ever attended a class at The Yoga Room, you've seen the giant supply of yoga props we have available for people to use in class. We have blocks, bricks, blankets, straps, wedges, bolsters, eye pillows, chairs, and even sandbags. Often times people who are new to yoga or new to our studio hesitate to use the props, so I wanted to dedicate this post to props and tell you why we use them and what they're for. Basically, we use props to help make yoga poses more accessible and more beneficial for each individual person. It's important to balance effort and ease in your yoga practice, and sometimes the use of props enables the ease part of the equation. Without the right props, some poses can be inaccessible, uncomfortable, or even painful.
So here's a breakdown of all our props and how they are used... (scroll to the bottom for a gallery of photos of yoga poses supported by props)
Blocks & Bricks Our 4" tall foam blocks are used for a variety of purposes. Mainly, they help fill a gap. If you're standing in a forward fold and your hands don't quite reach the floor, you can rest your hands on a block.
Blocks can also be used to support the knees if when you sit on the floor your needs don't easily relax down.
For lunges, blocks can be used to help you maintain your balance. Just rest your hands on the blocks for instant relief.
Bricks are a 2" tall version of blocks that can be used when you need a shorter support.
Blankets Blankets are my #1 most important prop. They are indispensable for achieving a comfortable, well-aligned sitting position. It's important to elevate the hips enough that the knees relax down below the level of the hips, and blankets are perfect a perfect way to fine-tune your sitting height.
Blankets can also be used rolled up or folded to create a support to lay on for chest-opening poses.
And blankets can be used to fill small gaps or add a little padding to make poses more comfortable and relaxing.
Straps Straps can be used as an extension of the arms... In a sitting forward fold (or any position where you're trying to reach your feet or foot), the strap can be looped around the bottoms of the feet to help support you in the posture.
Straps can also be used to bind and support the legs in relaxation poses.
Wedges Wedges are a relatively new addition to our collection. We use them mainly to support the wrists. If the all fours crawling position is uncomfortable for your wrists, you can use a wedge to decrease the angle of the wrists and make them more comfortable.
For advanced practitioners, wedges are a handy tool for supporting the wrists and getting into backbend (wheel pose).
Oh, I love bolsters. Bolsters are very firm pillows. We have 3 sizes in our collection. All 3 sizes can be used to sit on, much like I described for Blankets above.
Bolsters can also be used to lay back on, either alone or perhaps with a block supporting the end that supports your head, for phenomenal chest openers.
Bolsters are excellent for supporting the legs in final relaxation pose - the use of the bolster in this way releases tension from the low back.
Bolsters also have a variety of specialized uses in Restorative yoga, where the practitioner lays in supported poses for several minutes at a time for a deeply restful and healing experience.
Eye Pillows Eye pillows are pretty straightforward. They are filled with flax and lightly scented with lavender and they are mainly used to cover they eyes during final relaxation to shut out light and encourage relaxation. We lay a tissue over the eyes, then rest the eye pillow on top for hygienic purposes.
Eye pillows also make a handy light weight to rest in the hands during relaxation.
Chairs Oh, I also love chairs! We have a dedicated Chair Yoga class, but I often incorporate chairs into my classes because they have so many uses!
Chairs can be used to make lots of sitting poses more accessible and beneficial in loosening tight hips. Using gentle yoga poses and a chair, you can loosen the fronts of the hips, backs of the hips, and sides of the hips!
Chairs can be used as a support in balancing poses and they can also be used to modify the ever-popular downward-facing dog pose.
Chairs can also be utilized for inversions (positioning your body upside down). Often times I use chairs as a baby step for people who are just learning headstand.
I would say that chairs are the #1 prop for making yoga accessible for people who think they can't do yoga - people who are very inflexible and people with balance issues.
Sandbags Sandbags are really lovely. Our sandbags weigh 10 pounds each. Predictably, they are good for weighing things down. They are a useful tool in reclining hand-to-foot pose because they help the passive hip stay anchored down on the floor.
They're excellent for promoting grounding and relaxation in child's pose.
But by far, my favorite use of sandbags is resting across the hips during final relaxation. There's something about the weight on the hips that induces a really deep relaxation. It's almost as if the weight of the sandbag roots your worries down into the earth so that youcan fully rest. It's really lovely. You should try it.
So that's my summary on props. Did I miss anything? What your favorite prop and how do you use it? You know I'm always open to new ideas, so please take a minute to share your thoughts on your favorite props in the Comments section below.
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