These humble yoga props will become your best friends in your home practice
Practising yoga at home is normally a solitary, personal affair. And whilst we often appreciate these moments of solace and me time, it’s also nice to know that you have some on hand home support when you need it in the shape of yoga props.
Forget expensive keep fit gadgets, these 5 simple yoga props come at a minimal price and are accessible to any budget; that’s if you don’t have them in your house already!
Whether you use yoga props to relax and restore, or as aids to advance your practice. This yoga prop toolkit makes a whole multitude of yoga asanas available to you in your home practice.
Yoga Prop 1: The Yoga block
This handy yoga prop can be picked up from just about any sports shop, starting at just a few pounds for a simple foam block. I would advise treating yourself and grabbing two or three of them if possible. My personal preference is for natural cork yoga blocks, as they’re more stable than foam ones, as well as being kinder to the environment.
The humble block can be used for a whole manner of things, including; propping knees and thighs in long Yin yoga holds, or in poses such as supine (lying on your back) spinal twists. Sitting on a block helps to create an anterior tilt of your pelvis and in turn more length through your spine in seated postures. A block can give you that extra bit of height you may need in twisted standing poses such as Revolved Half-Moon or Revolved Triangle pose. It can even be used to train muscles and joints that are prone to buckle in or flair out, keeping them in tighter alignment. Think of squeezing a block between the knees in Chair pose or the elbows in Forearm stand!
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Yoga Prop 2: The Yoga strap
I love long leisurely stretches into my hamstrings using a yoga strap/belt around my toes. On the other end of the scale, my hands would not be grabbing my toes in King Pigeon pose, if it weren’t for months of slowly opening up my hip flexors in this pose with a strap. And that’s without even getting started on my shoulder rotation in Gomukasana, in which time spent with a strap grabbed behind back improved my shoulder and chest mobility no end. Don’t have a proper yoga belt? No worries! In most cases, an old silk scarf or tie will work just as fine.
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Yoga Prop 3: A blanket
Now, this is one prop we’ve all got! Use a blanket under your sit bones to give yourself a little extra height, folded up in your hip creases in hip openers such as Butterfly pose, or cushioned between the knees to make them more comfortable. A blanket can be rolled up to prop under your ribs in Cobra pose and under your lower back assisting in supine backbends. You can give your seated meditation more longevity by either sitting on a folded up blanket or by wrapping it around your shoulders to stop you from catching a chill. And of course, draping a blanket over you in Savasana helps you to get comfortable and fully wind down after your practice.
Your blanket doesn’t have to be anything fancy. I, for example, am quite partial to taking an inflight blanket from long haul flights as a little souvenir from my yearly stint to the tropics. Not that I’m encouraging a conscious going against of Patanjali’s Asteya (non-stealing), it’s just that nobody’s ever told me otherwise when leaving the plane with a blanket very obviously tucked under my arm.
Yoga Prop 4: A massage ball
I’m sure by now you may have heard of Yin yoga? And the yoga world’s very healthy obsession with Myofascial release? Well if you haven’t, the principals are this: that we need to not only stretch and strengthen our major muscles but also the huge web of connective tissue interconnecting all of our muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones, called fascia.
It’s said in Yin Yoga that ‘we hold our issues in our tissues’ and its certainly true that if you’re doing a lot of yoga, especially high-intensity practices such as Power yoga, you will indeed begin to experience some of these issues. If nothing else on a physiological level in the form of overworked areas or maybe even injuries.
These fantastic little friends of fascia that resemble a cross between an instrument of torture and something from The Gladiators gauntlet, can be picked up very cheaply from sports shops or online. Release knots around your shoulders, deep in the glutes and along your spine with these handy little balls.
Dedicating 5 minutes a day to rolling one of these around your problem areas, and even non-problem areas if you have the time, will help hydrate your fascia. This will aid with the prevention of injuries and just make you feel a lot looser. A tennis ball can be used if you haven’t got a massage ball to hand and a Lacrosse ball gets in even deeper!
Chair yoga is especially good for seniors, or for incorporating into your office working day. I like to use a chair for working on correct alignment in one-legged standing poses, as it allows you to focus on what your legs and feet are doing when you take out the wobble. Chairs are also great for using to practice drop-backs into Wheel pose if you’re more advanced in your practice. You can also use it to support your front thigh in Extended Side Angle Pose.
For an alternative Savasana prop your calves up on a chair and see how much more you can spread your lower back across the floor. You’ll also benefit from draining the blood down out of your legs and through your lymph nodes, down into your main internal organs.
So what are you waiting for? Get these this simple yoga prop toolkit by your side and get creative with your little yoga helpers. Nothing but good will come from it, I promise! From time to time, we all just need a little help from our friends. Happy propping everyone!
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