If you’ve ever been to a vinyasa yoga class, chances are your instructor has suggested the option to use props for your practice. Props are supportive objects that help yogis in certain postures. These include blocks, straps, pads, towels, and even gloves!
Props are often looked down upon by students, as they feel they don’t need them to achieve the posture, or they are metaphorical “training wheels” for beginner yogis. This could not be further from the truth! Props can be used to help with alignment, and even to deepen physical asanas.
If you’re one of the many yogis who refuse to grab a prop during class, here are a few reasons you may want to rethink your choice:
Props Help Create True Alignment, Stability and Strength
When used correctly, props can actually improve your alignment by helping you learn the true mechanics of the pose – preventing injury and creating correct muscle memory. For example, if your mat is too much of a stretch for you to reach in a certain posture, a block can help “bring the ground up to you”. Props are great for creating stability in postures such as half-moon, where lack of balance may make it difficult to achieve the full asana. Blocks can increase your ability to safely move into the pose and can encourage the body to focus on developing core strength, rather than just trying to hold your balance.
Props can also encourage students to use other muscles in their body, such as squeezing a block between their legs during chair pose or bridge. This creates engagement in the outer thighs and works muscles in your legs that otherwise wouldn’t be used.
Props Can Help You Deepen Postures
Props are not just for aiding beginners in their practice – they can also help you deepen into postures. Supported fish, for example, is a pose that can be achieved by laying on your back with a block between your shoulder blades. This chest opener counteracts bad posture by releasing tension in the chest muscles. The block behind your back allows you to feel the benefits of the pose because you are able to fully surrender and create a deep heart opening.
Props Empower You to Experiment
Props allow students the opportunity to experiment with different postures that they usually would not try. For instance, King Dancer pose is a more challenging posture if you don’t have the flexibility and rotation mobility in your shoulder. Using a strap allows you to attempt postures that normally would not be attainable by “lengthening” your arms and reach without injury. They help you gain the flexibility to attempt & experiment with new postures, and eventually gain the confidence to try them without.
Props Can Personalize Your Practice
All of our bodies are different, and no two yogis have the exact same amount of flexibility, strength, etc. Props are useful for yogis of all levels to aid in their practice. If you feel pain in certain positions, a pad, block, or towel could be useful under your knees or hands to prevent injury and allow for full range of motion.
There are so many ways you can utilize props to help you get the full benefits of your practice, and to personalize your movements to ensure it FEELS good for you! What are your favorite props to use in your practice?