Starting this one with a riddle.
They’re available in most studios, largely underused, frequently associated with weakness, yet a fun and creative addition to our yoga practice. Guess what they are? Yeah, you got it, PROPS!!!
Let’s be honest here.
Few teachers sequence their classes using props and when they do it’s kind of a «special class». Most students who grab props when entering the yoga room are 1) beginners, 2) recovering from an injury or 3) lacking balance or flexiblity. I myelf never stopped by the prop shelf, naively thinking «I don’t need them» until I had hip surgeries and was trying to regain length and depth in postures. Yeap, I was in group 2).
But that was BEFORE.
Before my teacher training with Ana Forrest! Before switching from an aesthetic «look right» approach to a functional «do right» approach. Before understanding how to use props to get sensations in targeted areas of the body. Before having loads of fun playing with my 3 yoga friends! Let me introduce them to you.
My good old friend the BLOCK
Blocks are simple and cheap multi-purpose props. They support tight hips and knees, help find balance in standing poses, add extra length when flexibility is lacking, keep the inner legs active when squeezed… and so much more.
When using blocks, remember not to sink on them but rather continue to engage the supported body part(s). Getting 2 blocks is a good idea and getting them of the same height is an even better idea. They’ll come in handy for seated postures and arm balance work.
DIY: A big solid book, a dictionnary for example.
My dear new friend the ROLL
Unlike bolsters that are typically used as restorative yoga props, rolls add intensity to core work (abs with roll between thighs), help with movement of the digestive system and lengthen out of the lower spine (backbends over a roll).
Essential but not exclusive to Forrest Yoga, rolls are super easy to make so no excuse for not giving them a try. Take a spare mat, a big beach towel or a blanket, fold it into 3 (widthhwise), roll it as tight as possible and tape it. Done.
My BFF the STRAP
Traditionally used for deeper stretches and elongating your reach, yoga straps work magic to open tight body parts, especially the chest, shoulders and harmstrings. And they’re also great for preventing unwanted body movement.
Using straps takes a bit of getting used to so work with patience and breathe deeply as you’re figuring your way in the postures. When choosing a strap, give priority to a model with a good quality, solid buckle (over fabric and width).
DIY: Belt, tie, scarf, dog leash
Here is how I look at it.
What fuels me, in yoga and in life in general, are sequences of small but meaningful improvements. Little wins! Dont get me wrong here. You won’t see me checking Facebook over and over to see how many people like my posts (not addicted to that drug). But you’ll definitely find me on the mat every single day, working on poses with curiosity, exploring the mechanics of my body and fiddling around with props searching for what feels best!
Still not 100% convinced?
Well, just trust me on one thing: PROPS FEEL GREAT. Isn’t that a good enough reason to try them all and decide what place you wanna give them in your practice? I bet it is.
«All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better». – Ralph Waldo Emerson