Some people may wonder if using a yoga prop can help them get more out of their practice. My personal opinion is yes.
B.K.S. Iyengar introduced the yoga prop as a means of supporting proper alignment of the joints and bones during postures. Maintaining proper alignment is key to reducing the possibility of injury and to allowing you to get deeper into the poses. Props are especially useful for beginners, for people who do not have a great deal of flexibility, for those who are recovering from injuries, and for those with special physical needs.
TYPICAL YOGA PROPS
YOGA BLOCK – I use this yoga prop often, especially when I am doing a Forward Bend and my hamstrings are not yet flexible enough to allow me to comfortably touch my hands to the floor. Yoga blocks are a great aid to help you maintain proper alignment in challenging poses. You can stack several blocks to gain height or use them to support you in certain poses.
YOGA STRAP – Another yoga prop that I use often is a strap. Straps can help you reach limbs such as feet and hands during certain postures where you have limited flexibility. They help you maintain proper alignment and help you lengthen your body. I always use a strap for one of my favorite poses – Cow Pose – because I am not yet able to grasp my hands behind my back. The use of the strap allows my arms to be comfortable so I can fully relax forward in the pose.
YOGA BALL - This yoga prop is extremely versatile and it is one that I use several times each week. It is great for developing core strength because you need to recruit significant muscle fibers when doing postures in order to keep the ball from rolling and you from falling. It can be very useful for beginners and those recovering from injuries because it helps with support and alignment. A yoga ball is also great for stretching because you can get an extended range of motion.
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BLANKETS - Although I don't often use them, blankets can offer many benefits. They can help support you in poses, they provide padding, and they also provide warmth so you can be very comfortable in restorative poses.
LESS COMMON YOGA PROPS
BACKBEND BENCHES - They help to support you during backbends. They reduce straining and allow your spine to maintain proper alignment while increasing flexibility in your shoulders, chest and the front of your body.
EYE PILLOWS - They are soft cushions that you place on your eyes to help you focus inward and achieve a greater sense of peace and calmness during relaxation poses.
There are times when using a yoga prop can help you deepen your practice, and during those times, you might want to consider using one or all of these props. At other times, you might not feel the need to use them. The important thing is to pay attention to your body and to respond to what it needs each time you practice.
Della Menechella is a yoga and fitness enthusiast who has been involved in fitness for over thirty years. Her website
http://www.beauty-fitness-yoga-source.com/ is filled with practical information about how you can make yoga and fitness a positive part of your life.