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Lean on me: Using props in your yoga practice

28 May 2020 18:03PM by Joseph Cummins

Let’s talk yoga props. They’re the elephant in the room. If you take one, you feel new and inexperienced. But I’m here to tell you that it’s all a stigma! Props are honestly used more for progressing a practice than they are by beginners. I am a big advocate for the prop and encourage you to jump on board (or block).

Below I have listed some cool ways to use props to enhance your practice. Give them a go and always grab a prop when you practice!

Blocks:

Blocks are literally always helpful. Can’t reach the floor? Use a block. Want to make the abs workout harder? Use a block. Want to work on alignment? Use a block. Never ever be ashamed to grab a block in class. If you’re practicing at home you don’t need to have a specific yoga block. You can use a book, or any prism-shaped object. If you want a “softer” block, you can wrap a book in a tea towel.

Below are some examples when blocks are helpful:

Extended side angle

Here is a great way to use a block. If you’re working on extending your arm in extended side angle, a block can bring the ground to you, so you can focus on getting that length through your abdominals.

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Jump throughs

Do you have short arms? I do. Blocks are essential when I try to work on jump throughs, or anything that involved my hands on the ground to lift up my body.

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Boat pose

Boat pose (navasana) is the bread and butter of a vinyasa practice. Once you nail it, you’re left wondering where to go next. The answer? Add blocks. Nothing makes you engage muscles more than worrying about dropping a block.

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Straps:

Straps are really great for tight shoulders and short arms (of which I have both). They’re useful for binding, for floorwork and again, alignment. You can use a towel, a scarf or a belt. Anything will do!

Below are some examples when straps are helpful:

Bound arms

If your shoulders are tight, getting those hands to connect will feel near impossible. Grab a strap and it will be a whole lot easier!

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Paschimottanasana

This is probably a lesser-known use for a strap, but you can use it to get the right alignment in your hamstrings and neutral spine when performing forward folds.

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Warrior II

Another lesser-known use of a strap – warrior alignment. You can use straps in a myriad of ways to get the right alignment in your poses. Below is an example of a warrior II assist, that promotes leg and hip engagement.

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Bolsters:

Bolsters are usually used in a yin practice, though you can use them in any of the slower stretching postures. Bolsters are honestly just hard pillows, and can be subbed for anything in your living room.

Wide leg forward fold

Have some trouble folding down? A bolster can bring the ground to you. You can rest your chest here.

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Viparita Karani – legs in the air

It can be nice to feel your buttocks higher than your heart to promote blood flow. Popping a bolster under your sacrum will elevate your hips and feel super comfortable.

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Reclining butterfly

This pose is all about opening up through the hips, but by putting a bolster behind your shoulders, it can be a shoulder and heart opener too. Give it a go! 

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We hope you enjoyed these options for using props. Take a few pics of your practice and tag us at @virginactiveUK on Instagram!  

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