5 Basic Yoga Props To Elevate Your Practice
Even if you just started your yoga journey, chances are you’ve seen a yoga prop before. But, have you ever used one? A recent Instagram poll revealed that 28% of followers had never used a yoga prop during their practice. Maybe there are feelings of embarrassment or maybe it’s intimidation that keeps someone from utilizing props, but the truth is yoga props are absolutely essential.
Props advance your practice by creating muscle memory, deepening poses, correcting alignment and improving flexibility. They provide support so that you don’t sit in discomfort while trying to achieve a pose. When the body feels supported, the muscles release, allowing you to find space and gain length. With restorative yoga, props allow you to fully sit back, release tension and relax.
Without an instructor’s gentle reminder to listen to your body, it can be easy to get caught up trying to achieve a pose. That’s why using props is important when practicing yoga at home. Using them correctly ensures that you’ll avoid injury.
Here are 5 basic yoga props you should have at home so that you can find balance and stability in your yoga practice.
Blankets can be used in various ways during your practice from providing warmth to giving a slight elevation. They’re also useful for supporting your knees during certain kneeling positions when your mat isn’t enough. Having a yoga blanket can even help you hold poses for longer as it relieves some of the stress put on your body.
This may sound obvious to some of you but your yoga mat can really affect your whole practice. Yoga mats come in all different textures, levels of stickiness and material. Your yoga mat should provide a cushion for you from the hard ground as well as giving you a surface to grip, helping you keep poses for longer periods of time.
Your go-to when all you want to do is relax. The beauty of this yoga prop is its simplicity, you can easily find tension relief by taking a few minutes laying your body over a bolster. They are most commonly used in restorative yoga and are a must for prenatal yoga. A bolster offers comfortable support when seated for longer periods of time, like in meditation, they lift the buttocks off of the floor and help to soften your posture.
Blocks are especially helpful in standing poses, they “bring the floor closer,” allowing you to deepen the stretch. They’re great for those who might not be as flexible, those who may just need a modification or for yogis working on getting to the next level in a pose. Blocks work best in poses where you need to open your heart or reach your toes. They can be made from a sturdy foam, cork or wood and can be placed on different sides to create a variety of heights.
Made from either nylon or cotton, straps come in a few sizes, generally in the 6-to-10 foot range. They are used to create space and flexibility and are excellent tools when needing to get into a pose that requires a deeper stretch. Straps help you avoid pulling injuries by working as extensions of your arms and legs, allowing you to grab and hold poses you might otherwise not be able to, for example, bound poses.
Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or an enthusiastic beginner, the next time you find yourself feeling like you’re not quite there in a pose, ask yourself if your practice might benefit from the addition of a prop. You just may find them helping you go a little deeper or hold a little longer, safely and in the comfort of your own home.