I had been practicing yoga for 15 years before I ever used yoga props in my practice. Having taught myself from a book and being a bit macho after just coming off of a competitive high school swimming career, I guess I thought “props are for wimps.” It never occurred to me to even try them until I took my 200 teacher training. One weekend we did a props workshop and were given the opportunity to play with blocks, bolsters, pillows and chairs. The experience blew my mind and opened up a whole new realm in my practice! Here are my top three reasons to start using props, regardless of how long you’ve been practicing or what your flexibility/strength level is.
1. Deeper Exploration of the Postures
At its core, yoga is about exploring ourselves, learning and growing. Changing the postures, even easier ones like savasana and Child’s pose, can bring new perspective and growth to your practice. Using props is not about making the pose easier, props help you find different expressions of the pose, they help you experience it in a new way and that changes how you experience the pose without the props. You’ve learned something new about yourself and grown from that even subconsciously.
2. Strengthen Supporting Muscles
Physically, yoga stretches and builds the muscles. When you incorporate props into your practice, you are giving the supporting muscles an opportunity to build while you stretch the areas that are the focus of the pose. Strengthening those smaller muscles that help us with balance is important as you are trying to increase your flexibility. If your supporting muscles aren’t strong enough to hold the posture that stretches, it’s going to be more difficult to relax the target muscles so that they CAN stretch.
3. Yoga Props Can Grow Your Creativity
Props also give us an opportunity for play, to experiment. Figuring out what you have that can be used as a prop (blocks, chairs, foot stools, can of tomatoes, the wall…) and then finding ways to use them to support and grow your home practice taps into that creative part of your brain that you used as a child on the playground. It teaches you to see things differently, try things, have things not work out and continue on anyway. This helps you become a better problem solver in other areas of your life. You become more adaptable and able to navigate difficult situations. All from playing (experimenting) on your yoga mat! So grab your mat and go on a house treasure hunt for objects that might be useful props!
Share your favorites here or with your friends! You could help someone else get into their creative groove and grow their own practice!