What are these “props” that people are using?!? What are they for? What do they do? Do I need them as well?
Yes, no and maybe are the best responses depending on where you are on your physical yoga journey.
Many people perceive props as crutches… That if they use props, they are taking the easy way out or that they are not working as hard. As someone with arms shorter than the average human being, who struggles with half moon pose (ardha chandrasana), the yoga block is a life saver. It lets me do the pose safely and more comfortably in a way that allows me to express the pose more completely. And since it’s not likely that my arms will ever get longer, the block is a fixture in my practice.
Below are typical yoga props that you will run into in a yoga class:
Yoga blocks come in different sizes, materials and colors. Some have a little bit more give than others. The kind of block that you use is a matter of personal preference. Blocks are used when you need the floor to be a little bit closer to you. In poses like standing forward bend (uttanasana), you can use the block so that your fingers are not hanging out in space if you are unable to touch the floor.
Yoga straps come in different lengths. If you are very tall, you might prefer a longer strap. Yoga straps serve as extensions of our arms. For example, in seated forward bend (paschimottanasana), you would use a yoga strap when you are unable to reach your feet by wrapping the strap around the balls of your feet to help you draw your torso closer to your legs.
Yoga blankets are often used to cushion our knees from the hardwood floor. They are also used to soften the contact between our body and floor like in supported shoulder stand (salamba sarvangasana). The blanket would be placed underneath your shoulders. They can also be used to cover our bodies during savasana.
Yoga bolsters are my absolute favorite yoga prop. It is often used in restorative poses. It is similar to a firm pillow, providing support in seated poses or poses that require you to lay supine on the floor. Bolsters also come in different sizes, shapes, colors and materials. The kind of bolster that you purchase will depend on your practice.
Do you need all of these props to have a good yoga practice? Definitely not. These items facilitate a better yoga experience but they are certainly not required. You don’t even have to use them all within a practice. Your yoga practice is unique and will be different every single time. Your goal in a yoga class is not to get into the hardest poses but to find ease within the poses – in whatever form that takes.
Do you have another prop that you use that you would recommend to others?