It is a common misconception that the use of props is a sign of weakness. In fact, by using props, one more easily sets the conditions for the body to experience the benefits of a particular asana (position). Because every human body is different, it is unrealistic to think that everyone can practice at the same rate, with the same alignment, or in the same style. But, with the use of props, one may be able to try an asana they once never thought possible!
Below are 3 simple examples of how the use of props can improve your yoga practice.
- Bring the Earth Closer to You
Blocks, in particular, provide a lifted surface so that the body can more easily rest in an asana. For example, using blocks on either side of the front leg in a lunge gives the practitioner a place to put their hands so that their heart can remain lifted. It can be difficult to breathe when the back is arched and the heart points down, which often happens in a lunge if the fingers or hands remain on the floor. By lifting the Earth with blocks, the practitioner is able to keep their heart lifted, spine long, and breathe easily in the lunge.
- Soften the Earth
Blankets give extra padding to the mat or surface one practices on. This is an important prop to use in order to avoid potential injury or bruising, specifically to the knees and the hip points. By placing a blanket under the knees in table top or under the hip points in a belly down backbend, such as Salabhasana, or Locust, the practitioner provides support for the body to rest in the asana, rather than strain to keep up. Blankets are also a valuable prop in both Restorative and Yin yoga because they are easily manipulated and can provide gentle support to various parts of the body.
- Lengthen and Release
Straps allow the practitioner to lengthen their arms so that they may more easily experience a stretch. For example, in a Paschimottanasana, or Seated Forward Fold, one may experience a large arch in the back due to tightness in the hamstrings. Just like in a lunge, when the spine arches and the heart points down, it can be difficult to breathe. But, by wrapping the strap around the pads of the feet, sitting tall and lengthening the spine, and holding onto the ends of the strap with the hands, one can breathe easily and experience the delicious back body stretch without strain.
The most important thing to remember when practicing yoga is that the practice is for you. It doesn’t have expectations or goals; it is an opportunity for you to explore your body and your breath and experience the divine light shining brightly within you. Props allow you to more easily release expectations or judgements of yourself and enjoy exactly where you are.
If you have questions about how to use props or where to purchase them, please reach out! Or, sign up for one of our virtual or in studio classes to experience the use of props for yourself!