You can use props to amplify, modify or just make a posture work better for your beautifully unique body.
The function of most props in yoga is just to bring the ground closer to you and make it a more appropriate shape for your body, but we also love using things like weights, bands and straps to help enhance muscle engagement and alignment in our practice.
What if I don’t have props?
That’s ok! Yoga props that are specially designed for a yoga practice are wonderful to have, but if you don’t wish to invest in them yet (or you left them at your friend’s house or you’re too lazy to go upstairs), you can improvise.
- Knee pad
- Water bottle or a stack of books
- Pillows, foam roller or rolled up mat
- Towel or belt
- Rolled up towel/sweater
- Cans of soup/water bottle or kids
These are maybe the most common yoga prop. Most of us are familiar with using them to bring the ground closer to you (for postures like revolved triangle or maybe to rest your knees on in Butterfly in a Yin class). They’re also great under your heels or shoulders when working towards arm balancing postures or as a tool to make sure your hips stay aligned in shapes like Warrior 3.
SOMETHING TO TRY: blocks are also great to help teach you to engage important muscles in a posture! Try placing a block between your calves or thighs in Chair pose to keep you engaging your glutes and hugging in towards the midline of your body.
Bolsters are one of our FAVOURITE yoga props. They are like an extra firm pillow and are shaped intentionally to assist in finding comfort in postures. They’re great to use under your torso in Child’s Pose or Sleeping Swan, but have you tried these?
- Under your ribs in Sphinx pose
- Against your thigh in Dragon
- Under your knees for Savasana
- Stacked on a block for Reclined Butterfly
- Tucked under your hips for Legs Up the Wall
- Under your hips for a reclined twist
If you aren’t ready to invest in a bolster yet, try an old mat rolled tightly or a pillow folded in half as alternatives.
Straps are great when you can’t QUITE reach your hands together to bind. But they’re good for so much more!
STRENGTH: Try wrapping a strap around your upper arms to train yourself to keep them engaged and strong during Chaturanga.
RELEASE: Use a strap to keep your legs together and add a Restorative element to your Legs Up the Wall pose or around your hips and feet in Butterfly.
SPACE: Fold your strap over a few times and tuck it directly behind your knee if you have trouble with bent knee postures or under your ankles if it’s uncomfortable to put the tops of your feet on your mat.
Weights pick up where your body weight leaves off! We see weights a lot in PyroPilates and Blast because they’re a good way to make your muscles work harder which builds strength over time. We use sandbags in Yin to help stabilize the pose for more ease.
OTHER WAYS TO USE WEIGHTS/SANDBAG:
- Place them on your hips to make your bridges more challenging
- Use them as an emergency block!
- Put on your shoulder to keep it in place to deepen twists
DON’T FORGET: Often the best way to get the most out of a posture is really good alignment. Check in with your instructor before adding weights to see if they can help you refine your movement or alignment!
Bands are typically continuous loops and made out of stretchy material that offers resistance as you pull on the band. Due to the resistance, you’ll need to work harder to achieve movements!
TRY THEM WHEN YOU ARE…
- in place of weights for arm strengthening (use your other hand or foot for stability)
Bands are also great to help make some poses easier! Try putting a band around your upper arms to remind you to keep them engaged during a pushup, plank or chaturanga.