Yoga Props: Why and How to use them
Yoga is one of the greatest ways to cater to the collective needs of the body, mind, and soul. Practicing yoga on a regular basis can work wonders for your holistic well being. While practicing yoga, the use of yoga props has become increasingly popular. Though some consider the use of these props as “cheating” when it comes to achieving a desired yogic pose, their benefits are many.
Benefits of Using Yoga Props
Yoga props can be used in creative ways to achieve the desired results of yoga with ease.
Help Quiet Your Mind
Ujjayi breathing has, for long been used to cultivate mindfulness. However, it does not provide a guarantee when it comes to calming your mind. This is where props come to play. These can help you remain present and aware of your body by providing steadiness to a certain pose. It subsequently silences the chatter and suppresses distraction, thereby helping it to attain peace and quiet. Props help keep your mind off your constant fear of falling.
Motivate You to Experiment
Yoga involves a lot of experimentation. Props are, at times, the key to reap the benefits of certain poses. They also make progressions seem less intimidating. For instance, jumping through to attain a sitting posture can otherwise be considered an advanced technique. However, yoga blocks can help bring ease to the entire process. Trying to transition otherwise can lead to a stubbed toe. Blocks can also be used while performing a bridge or camel posture, where squeezing it in between your legs can force your abductor muscles to engage.
Give You A Taste of True Relaxation
While practicing yoga, some postures might give you the feeling of absolute calm. However, such poses can be further enhanced using props. Supta Baddha Konasana or Supported Reclined Bound Angle can aid greater shoulder-releasing and heart-opening when you lie down on a bolster. Savasana or corpse pose can make you feel more relaxed when you have a blanket supporting your knees or head and keeping you warm. Thus, these props help you attain complete relaxation.
Let You Live the Experience
Flexibility varies from person to person and sometimes even day to day. Props provide suitable variations and alternatives to people of different ages and with various constitutions so that every person can experience the pose best suited for them. It reduces the risk of injury due to the lack of flexibility during a particularly challenging pose without support. You no longer need to miss out on the blissful experience of yoga due to the inability to perform poses.
Facilitate A More Personalized Practice
Though props have been in trend for over decades, their use has been rightfully justified in the present world of customization. They allow tailoring a yoga practice according to the structure and shape of your body. There might be instances when you struggle to make your body look the way it should in a pose. However, with yoga props, you can easily achieve this desired alignment. Apart from preventing major injuries, proper alignment of the body helps you extract the most out of every asana you perform.
People are often afraid of using yoga props in the fear of getting injured in the process. Some, in fact, think that they might not be able to derive the complete benefit of a certain pose. Nevertheless, this is not the case. Yoga props are the best ways in which you can reduce and even prevent injuries. Moreover, they help your body open at its best to some poses which cannot be done otherwise.
Important Yoga Props and How to Use Them
Bolsters are characteristically used in seated postures, ones that are held for a very long period while practicing prenatal or restorative yoga. The sturdy pillows help you ease into the poses and relax your way through the stretch and practice. Bolsters are available in different shapes and sizes to suit the requirements of the concerned person. Nevertheless, a standard bolster approximately measures 8x26x32.5 inches with an average weight of 5 pounds. They are also available in smaller sizes. The most basic way to begin using the bolster is through a supported child’s pose. Stay here for a couple of minutes to attain the best results.
Examples of Yoga Poses for a Yoga Block:
- Forward Bend
- Easy Pose
- Fish Pose
Yoga blocks are mainly used as a means of support by reducing the distance between the floor and your body. Lightweight and affordable, these blocks are easily available and can soften, deepen, and lengthen poses to a great extent. A standard yoga block is about 4x6x9 inches. However, you can also purchase blocks that are half this thickness as required. You can place the blocks in three different heights as per the pose you perform – the end, on edge, and flat. A slight grip on the block helps increase stability.
Examples of Yoga Poses for a Yoga Block:
- Fish Pose
- Downward Facing Dog
- Hero or Easy Pose
- Pyramid Pose
- Side Angle
- Half Moon
- Supported Bridge Pose
- Lizard Pose
Yoga mats form the base for all yoga practices. A good mat gives you added comfort and ease while performing a pose. A few basic elements that must be considered while purchasing the right yoga mat include stickiness, thickness, texture, and material. The basic way of using a mat is to roll it out flat on the ground and start practicing. Standard yoga mats are mostly made from PVC, but you can also lay your hands on other eco-friendly options like recycled organic materials and jute. The best thing about a yoga mat is that it allows you to practice all poses.
Blankets can provide a great deal of support and comfort for several poses from basic poses like a Forward Bend to advanced ones like a Headstand. Though blankets can be used for several purposes, one of the most important is to provide support while performing seated asanas. The additional height provided by the blanket lets you relax your legs and support your lower back. Seated asanas can prove to be very uncomfortable for male practitioners due to the stiffness in their thighs. A yoga blanket can make them feel comfortable. Placing the blanket right under your backbone helps release a tight back, shoulder, and neck muscles, leaving you feeling revitalized. Blankets are also great as a cushion under your knee for example in Cat and Cow pose.
Examples of Yoga Poses for a Yoga Blanket:
- Cat-Cow, Table
- Child’s Pose
- Seated Postures like Forward Bend or Easy Pose
- Pigeon Pose
A yoga strap is a versatile prop. They are strong and vary in thickness and length. They are mostly used as limb extensions to provide a sturdy framework to explore various asanas. While using a yoga strap, one must be careful of the “pull” it exerts on the body. Gripping it too tight can increase tension in the shoulder and neck regions of the body. Whatever pose you might be practicing, make sure you maintain a soft grip on the strap.
Examples of Yoga Poses for a Yoga Strap:
- Forward Bend
- Shoulder stretch (e.g. Cow Face arms)
- Big Toe Pose
- Forearm Balances (e.g. Forearm Stand or Scorpion)
- Boat Pose
The yoga wheel is a relatively new prop brought into use by the founder of Dharma Mittra Yoga, Sri Dharma Mittra. The prime purpose of this wheel is to improve back flexibility. Beginners and advanced yogis can both practice backbends with ease. Apart from this, a yoga wheel assists you in front-body exercises like hip flexors, quads, and abs. You can purchase different sizes of the yoga wheel based on your height. A few common poses to try out using a yoga wheel are pigeon pose, supported shoulder stand, and monkey pose.
Examples of Yoga Poses for a Yoga Wheel:
- Spinal Stretch (e.g. Bridge or Fish)
- Monkey / Split
In conclusion, yoga props are not shortcuts to attain perfect yoga poses. They are ways to aid the process and make you feel comfortable through your practice sessions. If you have not yet tried one of these amazing props, its time you experience the difference.
Motivitated to do some yoga now? Try these yoga poses for more energy.