Yoga props get a bad rep. More often than not we see people brushing them aside feeling embarrassed that using them might somehow show them up to be inadequate or “not flexible enough”. Well, we’re here to say that’s codswallop! Here at Yogaia we L-O-V-E yoga props. When used correctly, they’re a major game changer and something that yogis of all levels can benefit from.
Whatever stage we’re at in our yoga journey, we all know what it feels like to glance around a room or stream through pictures comparing ourselves to others. I know that I’ve been guilty of trying to push myself uncomfortably into postures, only to wake up the next day with an aching body and a red face! But the truth is, that’s not yoga at all. And let’s face it, we have enough stresses in day-to-day life without needing to add to them in our yoga class.
Why use yoga props?
The use of yoga props is about giving our body the space to relax so we can flow more precisely into postures and naturally find the correct alignment. When we try to contort, force or strain the body, it instantly contracts and stiffens. But when we provide the body with the support it needs and remove that sense of discomfort or force, we create the space for it to naturally open and become more flexible. And importantly, we find a flexibility that is grounded in strength and balance.
Regardless of age or ability, props open the benefits of yoga to everyone. Whether you’re looking to use yoga props to heal an injury, increase flexibility, range of motion or just because you’d like to reach your tippy toes, choosing the right props is paramount for anyone looking to get the most out of their home yoga practice. Here are a few of our favourite props:
Apologies for stating the obvious, but the yoga mat really is where it all begins! It’s vital that we create a comfortable space for our home practice… And our yoga mat is exactly that; our own personal safe haven. This means finding the perfect match is key – something that feels comfortable, safe and ultimately ‘ours’. One of our favourite brands is Manduka who make really comfortable, durable mats (and they just so happen to be the long-standing favourite of most yoga teachers too!) We also really love Jade mats which come in two different sizes, standard and travel, depending on what you’re after. Made with tree rubber and coming with the promise of a tree being planted on every purchase, you can’t go wrong!
The Bolster (AKA relax to the max)
The ultimate therapeutic prop, the bolster is all about support and therefore perfect for anyone who suffers from aches and pains. Providing your body with the support it needs allows it to gradually open and release, leaving you feeling fresh and rejuvenated after class. One of our favourite bolster uses is in a supported backbend, opening up the chest and heart. This makes the perfect antidote to a long day where we spend most of our time hunched over a desk.
Simple but profound, the yoga strap is great for anyone looking to increase their flexibility. The yoga strap gives yogis of all levels the ability to feel out more advanced poses whilst still feeling comfortable and secure.
This one’s for anyone who’s looked around a class and questioned whether the person next to them just has abnormally long arms… (I’ve been there). Sometimes the floor just seems too far away, and that’s where the yoga block steps in. The block’s there to bring the floor closer to you, allowing you to fully step into postures securely and comfortably. Blocks tend to come in either foam, cork or traditional wood, depending on how much ‘give’ and traction you prefer between you and the floor.
The point is, struggling and forcing ourselves into postures does more harm than good. Yoga is all about exploring the body and its limits from a place of comfort and security. As B.K.S Iyengar himself said, “Nothing can be forced, receptivity is everything”. Some days we might feel really strong and energised, the next it might feel like we’re literally dragging ourselves out of our duvet and onto our mat.
Either way, the most important thing is that we honour how we’re feeling. No two practices are the same – that is the beauty of yoga. The props are here to better accommodate us so we can give our body what it needs to feel its best.
What are your favourite yoga props? Do you often use them in your practice? Tell us in the comments below!
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