Accessories To Aid Your Yoga Practice
As a Yoga Teacher and practitioner, I feel that students sometimes try to avoid the use of props in classes and that there seems to be a stigma associated with them – perhaps people feel like using props is ‘cheating’ or they’re a kind of ‘training wheel’ for beginners. The other obstacle students face, it that sometimes they don’t understand how to use a prop in a particular pose, so they are unaware that this is an option available to them. The truth of the matter is that we use props to support our practise and safely guide our bodies more deeply into a Yoga pose. Here are eight common poses demonstrated with the use of props that you can take onto your mat, or into your next Yoga class.
Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose is a great hamstring stretch, but sometimes people avoid this pose completely wit the mindset that they are unable to to this pose if they cant reach their toes. The use of a Yoga Strap lopped around the sole of the foot allows you to safely get into the pose, and receive all of its benefits, as well as increase your flexibility over time, so eventually you may be able to achieve this pose without the use of the strap. A micro bend in the knee helps to keep the joint safe, and make sure your flexing your toes on both feet.
Pigeon Pose is a favourite for most Yoga classes – a deep release for the glutes and hips. If you find the hip of your front / bent leg feels as though it is hanging out in space, it’s best to offer the body some support by placing a Yoga Block, or even a folded Yoga Blanket or Bolster underneath the hip, as shown.
If you suffer from tight hip flexors, you can take Pigeon pose a little deeper. Keep the Yoga Block under the hip, and then bending the back leg, you can catch a hold of the back foot with a Yoga Strap, taking the pose into One-Legged King Pigeon Pose (sometimes also called Mermaid Pose).
Another great pose for tight hip flexors is One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II. Performed from a low lunge position, a Yoga block placed under the hand gives you extra height to increase your ability to reach the foot – and you can loop a Yoga strap around the foot and use it to assist you in drawing the heel in towards the bottom. Make sure you stack ankle directly underneath the knee to keep the knee joint safe.
A delicious release for the quadriceps is a Support Reclining Hero Pose. You can place a bolster along the length of the spine, or simply place a Yoga Block under the upper back, ensuring you’re supporting the head and neck. Roll out the calf muscles using your hands to allow yourself the enter this pose with my ease, and try to keep the knees in close to one another. If you experience sharp pain in the knees, immediately come out of the pose, and find your way back to a safe expression of the posture.
Triangle Pose is a posture I often see students struggling to find correct alignment in. Placing a Yoga Block underneath your hand can assist you to achieve length through the side body, and is a very helpful tool if you suffer from tight hamstrings.
If Full Splits isn’t available to you, you can work towards this pose using a Half Split and two yoga blocks underneath the hands for support. This not only provides stability in the pose, but also encourages length in the spine as you tip from the hip crease and lengthen the hamstrings.
You can also utilise a Yoga Strap in a Seated Forward Fold if you can’t quote reach your toes. Loop the strap around the sole of your feet, keep your breast bone lifted, your shoulders back and down as you fold at the hip crease. The toes flex back towards the chest, and a micro bend in the knee can take some pressure out of the joint.