If you walk into most yoga studios these days, you’ll see shelves stacked with blankets, blocks, bolsters, and other yoga props. Props are actually a relatively new part of yoga, but using them correctly can help take your practice to a whole new level.
The history of yoga props
The great yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar first introduced the idea of using yoga props when he realized how useful they could be. Iyengar wanted every student to be able to practice yoga comfortably and with correct alignment.
Here are four props every yogi should have and use.
Yoga blocks are made of foam, cork, or wood. They have so many uses that if you have only one prop, it should be a block—or better yet, a set of two blocks. Yoga blocks can help you get stable in standing poses, and for many students, they are essential tools for reaching the ground without compromising alignment in forward bends and poses like half-moon and triangle.
Straps are often used for legwork, but they have many other uses as well. You can use a strap to make it easier to reach your foot in pigeon pose, for example, or to bring your hands closer together behind your back in shoulder openers.
3. Sticky mats
You probably don’t think of your yoga mat as a prop, but it is. The stickiness of the mat helps keep you from slipping, and it also give you a bit of cushioning. Sticky mats also allow you to practice more easily with bare feet, which is important so that you can feel your connection to the earth through the soles of your feet and your toes!
Blankets are essential yoga props with several uses. By sitting on the edge of a folded blanket (or two), you can sit more comfortably in a crossed legged position. That’s because the blanket (or blankets) will help raise your hips so you can keep your spine straight. You can also use rolled up blankets as props for many restorative yoga poses.
Should you use props as part of your yoga practice?
Whether to use yoga props or not is, of course, up to you, but don’t underestimate their value. While there’s nothing wrong with practicing without props, a lot of students think that using props means they’re “cheating” or less adept. This is not true. In fact, the more advanced your practice, the more uses you’ll find for yoga props—they are great tools for going deeper into poses at every level.