Some students view the use of yoga props as a sign of weakness. Although often unappreciated, props such as straps and blocks can offer big rewards when used creatively in yoga practice. Here are a few ways to sneak props into your home practice.
1. Blocks in Wheel Pose - Using blocks against a wall in wheel pose can help to open your chest and decrease the amount of pressure on the wrists. Place the block on an angle, propped between the baseboard your yoga mat. Keep your legs engaged, and try to make this feel like an even backbend (it is very tempting to make the movement all about the lower back).
2. Straps in Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose - To practice rooting the thighs, place a strap around your upper thigh of the lifted leg and around the ball of your foot of the extended leg. Instead of taking the foot as close as you can to your head, root your sitting bones down, keeping the natural arch in your lower back. Next, press through the extended foot to root the thign of the lifted leg. Only take the stretch as deep as you can without loosing the rooting of the thighs.
3. Straps in Downward Facing Dog - Make a loop about shoulder width, place it behind your back, and tighten it around both shoulders. The idea is to keep your shoulders and upper back from rounding. At the same time, pull your lower front ribs in, and feel your back press gently into the lower strap on your back. Keep the hips lifted high, and the legs engaged. Allow your strong foundation to bring new length to your spine.
Strap in Handstand - Place the strap as you did in downward facing dog. Prepare to kick up to a handstand about 6-8 inches away from the wall. You may not need it, but it is great to know that it's there. Engage your core, look between your hands, and kick up, attempting to place your hips just above your shoulders. Feel the stability & have fun!
Props are great. They can support and open your practice in a whole new way. Hopefully you feel inspired to find a new love for props. Try these ideas in your own practice, and tag @yoga.m8 on instagram if you use these or any other cool props. I'd love to hear from you.
Namaste - Beth