When I started practising yoga I don’t think I ever took blocks from big stack at the edge of the studio, unless the teacher told me to. Why? Well maybe as a beginner I thought that ‘no pain, no gain’ must apply to yoga like it does to other fitness classes. I also didn’t know how to use them, or other props. It wasn’t until I trained as a yoga teacher that I understood that it doesn’t make you a bad person if you need blocks, it maybe just means you have short arms (I do) or you are tight in a certain area (I am!) or just that you have reached that ultimate goal in yoga of enlightenment. Only kidding, but it’s a great place to be when you can let go of how you think you are supposed to look in a pose, or how your body is supposed to bend or move and realise that yoga props are your best friend.
One thing about this whole lock-down, zoom yoga revolution is, I fear a whole load of yogis out there are doing without props. Even with studios open, most are not lending props and therefore people are not getting the benefit of using them in their practice. If you have your own, props to you (!) if not, I urge you to get yourself at least some blocks. They come in foam, cork (slightly firmer) or if not, at least have a couple of dictionaries to hand.
So why the love of props? Simply they enhance and can advance your practice and they allow a truly personal experience. You can tailor your practice to your body shape and structure and improve your alignment, rather than struggling to get into or hold postures. They also help to steady you in poses, which can help you to find a steady, peaceful mind and concentrate on your breath. Why wobble in half moon, when you can be steady and still with your hand on a block?
You may be able to access more postures and find a deeper stretch with a strap (long belt can substitute here) Turn on some muscles (squeeze a block between your thighs in bridge or camel to engage the inner thighs) Or just have a more enjoyable experience feeling supported by blocks or a bolster in a restorative pose.
So silence your inner critic and get propping!
Slide through for some tips on using props in your practice.
Use blocks as an extension of your hands in poses like Triangle and Extended Side Angle to aid alignment and in balances to bring stability.
Bringing your hands to blocks in a forward fold and halfway lift helps release the hamstrings and lower back.
Areas of the body can be propped to allow correct alignment, such as under the sit bones in seated postures, under the hip in pigeon to allow the hips to square or under the knee for support in seated head to knee pose.
A strap can help you reach further and therefore stretch deeper in seated forward folds.
Props can be used in restorative postures to allow total muscle release and absolute relaxation.