We use props in the physical practice of yoga to achieve proper alignment in each pose. Proper alignment looks different from person to person, which is why props are so helpful. Once you know the support you need in certain poses, you’ll find that you can deepen the pose and reap the intended benefits.
So, put your ego to the side as we explore the main props used in yoga and their benefits.
The basic function of a block is to bring the ground closer to you. Blocks can also be used during core work or train the muscles for advanced poses like arm balances. For those of you reading this, you’re either new to yoga or have only done yoga classes at home, with or without blocks. For that purpose, the primary use for blocks will be to bring the ground closer to you, which adds access to difficult poses due to tightness in the body. Blocks can also be used to relieve pressure on your wrists during poses like plank and downward-facing dog.
Blocks are also handy for progressing some poses. In the last example below, if you’re not ready to take your hand all the way down to the mat, you can progress from resting your arm on your leg, to resting your hand on a block.
If you have the option, I suggest grabbing TWO blocks for class. It’s better to grab them and not need them than to need them and not have them. This is something that I do to this day, and I probably always will.
Manduka has some of my favorite blocks. They are extremely sturdy and durable.
Gaiam has affordable block options and can be found at big box stores like Target and Walmart.
Straps are typically used to access hard-to-reach body parts, particularly if we’re reaching behind the back or working on stretching the legs. Like blocks, straps are also used to train/strengthen muscles for more advanced poses like Crow Pose.
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Bolsters, Blankets, & Cushions
Bolsters, Blankets, and Cushions are primarily used in restorative and yin practices to provide support and comfort when holding stretches for long periods. I’ve only seen these given out during yin and restorative classes in the studio space. However, if blankets are available to use, or if you have your own, they are great to use as a cushion when on the knees (you can also fold your mat for this!).
The bolsters I’m currently using are by Hugger Mugger. If I compare them to mattresses, these are about as firm as you can get. If you want softer bolsters or cushions, Hugger Mugger might not be the way to go.