How To Use Yoga Props, According to Experts
To Support your at-home practice.
For almost a year now, yogis have had to continue their practices by streaming from home. This has meant missing out on the collective energy of our classmates, the convenience of temperature- and humidity-controlled studios, and the absence of their favorite yoga teachers. In addition to providing moral support, and guiding students through the series of postures that make up a class, yoga instructors perform individualized adjustments and tweaks to the body that help deepen stretches, allowing the body to build muscle memory and strength over time. The adjustments they make also ensure that yogis hold the postures as intended, with adequate support provided to their bodies. Until studios reopen, the use of yoga props could help make up for some of what’s been lacking by way of providing physical support.
Why Use a Yoga Prop?
“Yoga props are the best tool to deepen and personalize your yoga practice,” says yoga and meditation teacher Deacon Conroy, who specializes in teaching Vinyasa, Yin, and Restorative yoga using props like blankets, blocks, and wheels. “Most people, when they first start yoga, think that the use of props means that you ‘can’t’ do the pose,” he explains. He explains that they are actually tools to provide us with what we really need while in the posture: support, alignment, and guidance.
Rony Ghoraishy, yoga therapist, healer, and ALTYR practitioner, similarly emphasizes that yoga props are absolutely not crutches. “Using yoga tools can be helpful for students, especially when practicing from home. They are supportive, help you get into correct alignment, and add an extra layer of protection for your body.”
They are also a great way to avoid injury while practicing without the watchful eye of an instructor. Conroy explains that a blanket can support the head while you are in a twist; a wheel is a great way to feel safe in a held backbend, and blocks have endless ways to bring the floor up to your hands when working with lunges or folds.
The Best Postures to Use With Props
Using re-spin Yoga Blocks, $32:
“Lay on your back with the soles of your feet together, and place the blocks under your outer knees and thighs to gently open your hips. If you need more of a stretch, move the blocks further out to the sides; if you need more support, move the blocks closer to your hips or turn them up to a higher height,” says Conroy.
- “Place one block in between your shoulder blades on the lowest setting width-wise, and a second block one height higher supporting your head,” begins Ghoraishy. “Bring your arms out to a T and the soles of your feet together, with your knees open wide. Take expansive breaths into your diaphragm and allow the shoulder heads to melt open with every exhale.
Using RE-SPIN YOGA WHEEL, $32:
“Come into a seated position with the yoga wheel on your back along the length of your spine,” says Ghoraishy. “Lift your hips and begin rolling back on the yoga wheel. Interlace your fingers behind your head and drop your head back.”
“Yoga wheels can be great for backbends and heart openers,” says Conroy. “Lay on your back with bent knees in Bridge Pose or Setu Bandhasana. Lift your hips and slide the wheel under your low back and lay your hips back down, supported by the wheel.”
*Since it is sold out, consider Yoga Design Lab Yoga Wheel, $65
Using a blanket:
“Place a blanket under the head and neck to support the upper spine when reclined, or lay a blanket under your mid-back for more of a heart opener,” Conroy says.
Yoga: A Practice for Life Itself:
Let’s not forget that yoga is meant to be a practice—not just in preparation for the subsequent postures you will achieve on your yoga mat, but providing mental training, and imparting lessons, that can be used throughout life while off the mat. “Yoga props are a way to be honest with yourself about what you actually need in the moment — support,” Conroy says. “The time on your yoga mat is training for the other 23 hours [of your day] off the mat. Being honest with your limits during practice [will carry over] with you in everything you do.”