Yoga Props for Beginners- 4 Best Props to help your Practice
For many yoga students, the idea of using a prop to help them achieve or stay in a yoga pose seems like cheating. Props are not a sign of weakness, but part of an intelligent evolving practice. Here is our guide on yoga props for beginners- we will discover the best yoga equipment and how they can help your practice become more enjoyable.
Yoga props help our rigid bodies find more ease and stillness in a new pose. They make poses that would otherwise be inaccessible achievable to injured, tight, or unstretched bodies. Use props to help understand the pose and allow your body to slowly increase flexibility and improve in strength. They are like training wheels — designed to make a pose easier at first. They help you sink deeper into a stretch. If you usually use a prop in a particular pose, try going without it next time.
Yoga is an incredible practice because there’s always further you can go. You can always get more flexible, stronger, and more balanced. A block or strap can help you increase those elements but eventually removing it is very important for growth within your practice.
Benefits of Yoga props for Beginners:
Yoga props for beginners (and also advanced students) can be used to:
- help you understand your body’s unique range of motion, guiding you towards the ideal alignment for your body
- increase awareness of alignment and muscle engagement
- increase flexibility
- enable you to modify your practice in response to injury, pain or discomfort
- provide support as you explore new and more challenging postures
- increase or decrease the intensity of a pose
- support your body to minimise muscular effort, allowing you to hold restorative or yin poses for a longer period of time.
Yoga props are there to support your body as well as offering a supportive way for your body to move and to practice honestly and openly. Some days you may feel as stiff as a board and may not be able to access a shape or range of motion you did days or weeks before. Maybe on other days you want to take a more restorative approach to your practice- props are great for that!
The yoga strap
Yoga straps are a practical tool when working to increase flexibility or opening up tighter muscles. For newer students (or on the days when you’re feeling tighter than normal), a strap can be used to assist a forward fold. A strap also helps to support the arms when practicing forearm stand or dolphin pose. Finally, straps are insanely beneficial for simple side stretches—just hold the strap over your head and gently move left to right.
Yoga straps are perfect when you have tight hamstrings. For example, in Seated Forward Fold, wrap a strap around the balls of your feet and hold one side of the strap in each hand; gently pull yourself toward your feet with the straps, keeping a straight back rather than hunching over to force the pose.
No yoga strap at home? This one’s easy. Head to your closet and grab a necktie, bathrobe tie, belt, or scarf. All of these will work like a strap to support a deep opening and release.
Yoga blocks are one of the most common yoga props. Do you sometimes start your practice barely being able to touch your toes? This means your hamstrings are tight and a yoga block is an easy remedy to help rest your mind whilst you create heat and awaken your limbs.
Any pose that makes you wish the floor would come to meet you halfway is a good pose to use a block. For example, in Triangle pose, place a block on the outside of your front leg and rest your bottom hand on the block. Try starting with the block at its tallest, then in time work on getting it to the middle, or lowest height before being able to reach the floor with your bottom hand.
If you don’t own yoga blocks, there are a few things around the house that serve as a suitable alternative. If you need a only slight lift off the ground for your seated poses, try a rolled-up towel or blanket. For standing poses, grab a dictionary or a create a small stack of hardcover books.
Pillows and Bolsters
From small pillows to large bolsters, the extra cushioning is great for restorative poses, which are typically held for several minutes. As with blocks, you may need to try different sizes to find the best support in each pose.
Pillows can provide extra cushion or space that can make many poses more accessible or more comfortable. In some poses, you may find you need more support from a bolster if your pillows are too flat or small.
There are many great ways to use pillows or bolsters. For example place it under each leg in Reclined Goddess Pose or Cobbler’s Pose. Place under your seat in Hero Pose or Pigeon Pose. Rest your legs on pillows in Reclined Supine Twist. Finally, using a pillow for its main purpose, as a pillow under your head in Legs up the Wall.
Blankets as Yoga Props
This is an easy yoga prop for beginners that can be found at home. Folded blankets can be used to lift the hips during seated poses, or to offer support during lying poses. For instance, when you sit cross legged, you can place a blanket under your sit bones to elevate the hips above your knees. Blankets come in handy for all sorts of things during class, and if it’s chilly, you can use them to get comfortable during cool down.
There are so many more yoga props for beginners and also advanced yogis. And the end of the day we recommend using props to create the desired shape in your body. Use them to understand proper alignment and then stop using them. This will deepen your yoga practice as you become more aware of your own limits and then learn how to breathe into them.
Feel free to contact us for our Yoga Retreat where our experienced teacher can guide you in various stretches to best make use of your props.
The Shanti-Som Team.