A yoga prop is simply an object that is used to aid the practice of yoga poses. When we see photos of great yogis in classic yoga asanas they are usually doing postures with no props. However, the less experienced amongst us often benefit greatly from the use of props, to help us achieve the otherwise unachievable, to make a pose ‘safer’, or to get greater health benefits from a pose.
BKS Iyengar's method of yoga often involves extensive use of a range of props, many of which he has pioneered. These are of particular benefit to beginners and stiffer students. All Iyengar teachers will have extensive knowledge and experience of using props to help their students.
Here are some of the most useful yoga props:
Often called ‘sticky mats’ because of the grip they provide, yoga mats are pretty much essential for any serious practice. As well as providing a surface that minimises unwanted movement, their parallel lines offer a useful guide to alignment in many poses. They can also be used folded to provide padding on hard floors, to cushion parts of the body in contact with the floor.
Invaluable for many things, wooden bricks are particularly useful for stiffer students, as they can help give the feeling of a final pose which lack of flexibility makes impossible. An example of this is the pose called Arhda Chandrasana (half-moon pose) where the hand that should go on the floor can be placed on a brick.
Very useful especially for sitting poses, and also can be used to provide a platform for shoulder stand.
Used particularly for restorative poses, yoga bolsters are mostly lain upon – often to create an opening in the chest (aiding the breath in particular).
A simple cotton belt with a sliding fastener is often used to keep parts of the body in a fixed relationship, for example they are often used around the upper arms in Savangasana (shoulder stand) to stop the arms splaying out to the sides. Also useful for forward bends where tight hamstrings prevent students reaching forward to catch their toes.
An everyday object very useful as a yoga prop - used as support, especially in restorative poses, and also to keep warm! Cotton blankets are particularly useful as they hold their shape better and lie flatter than normal wool or synthetic ones.
All the above props can be found in our well-equipped yoga studios.
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