Ah the humble yoga block. Often considered to be in the realm of beginners, yoga props are important tools that can help yogis of all abilities deepen their practice.
The most obvious reason why all yogis should use props is assistance with alignment. Bodies are made in all different shapes and sizes, and props can help us tailor our practice to our own body. Too often we see people struggling to achieve that perfect pose, what they think it should look like, that perfect Instagram shot. And whilst some discomfort can be experienced while we deepen our practice, when we struggle to achieve how we think it should look we are not honouring our bodies or our practice.
Props can also be used when ‘experimenting’ and trying new asanas, and in injury prevention. So what props can you expect to use in your standard yoga class?
Blocks will be made from wood, cork or hard foam. The most commonly used tool, they can be used to ‘bring the floor to you’, to help attain correct alignment or to help take the pressure off joints. As demonstrated in the picture above, when used in Balancing Half Moon I have brought the floor to me, worked with the shape and size of my body, increased the safety of this pose and have focused on developing more strength. I can also focus more on my breathing, enabling me to relax into the pose and reap the full benefits of it.
Straps can be used to increase resistance, to aid with holding poses and relaxation, or to increase flexibility and strength. A buckle at one end allows them to form an adjustable loop, or they can be used loose as a single piece of strap. Several straps can also be connected together.
My most favourite prop. Bolsters are used more in our Yin and Restorative classes and can be used to open up the body, support joints, and safety navigate poses. They also allow for a deeper relaxation of the body, as in placing a bolster under the knees during Savasana or along the length of the spine in Supported Fish.
More often used in our Yin and Restorative classes, as with bolsters, blankets can provide cushioning and can be used to slightly elevate the pelvis during seated asanas. Don’t get surprised if you get draped in a blanket during Savasana in a Yin or Restorative class. Blankets are super comfy and can help us relax into meditation.
Yoga is for everyone, so whether you are a beginner or advanced yogi, never shy away from using props. Blocks and straps are available on the way into the practice room, and if you feel like you need something else ASK! As teachers it is our job to help you get the most out of your practice. Don’t by shy to use them and don’t be shy to ask.
See you on the mat!