If you’ve ever wondered, “Why use yoga props?” the answer is simple. You will get more from your practice when you do.
Yoga props are a yogi’s support system. Blocks help you maintain appropriate posture so that you get the right kind of stretch and the increased benefits that a pose is meant to give you. A bolster can be the cushion that allows you to hold your poses long enough to restore your muscles, or it can be your crash pad while you attempt a new inversion.
You can also use straps to stretch, a wedge to support your joints, socks and gloves to support your grip, and more. All of these support your practice figuratively and support your body literally. Let’s learn more about these incredible yoga props.
Yoga Blocks Help You Get the Intended Benefits from Your Pose
Keeping yoga blocks near your mat during your yoga practice is like having a spotter when you’re lifting weights. You may not always need them, but the fact that they’re there will help you push yourself to the appropriate limit while preventing injury at the same.
The benefits from a pose are dependent upon whether or not you do the pose properly. If you use a block to get the proper posture for the pose, you allow the pose to do its work. Otherwise, you might not be getting the full benefit, or worse, you might strain your muscles.
If you’re not convinced enough to invest in a set of blocks, consider getting a single block to start with. If you’re not working your way up to advanced inversions and your flexibility is at least average, one block is sufficient for standard beginner and intermediate poses. These poses include, but are not limited to triangle pose, forward fold, cobra pose, forward bend pose, and half-moon pose.
A Bolster Helps You Restore Your Body Properly
There are a number of benefits to having a bolster during your yoga practice. Most frequently bolsters are used during restorative yoga practices. Restorative yoga is about opening up in the most relaxing way possible. But, of course, opening up isn’t always easy, even when you’re relaxed.
A bolster makes you as comfortable as possible every step of the way, allowing you to work on your heart-openers as openly as possible with complete comfort and support beneath you. For restorative yoga, props are often built into the practice, rather than being supplementary.
Most restorative practices involve far fewer poses than other types of yoga practices, but they are held far longer than you would hold those poses during other types of practices. Because of this, they tend to make use of the most yoga props.
Yoga Straps Help You Get the Most Out of Your Stretch
Yoga straps make it easier for you to stretch, while also allowing you to challenge yourself to stretch deeper. For instance, if you can’t fully extend your leg to perpendicular while you’re lying down, a strap could assist you in making it happen without you having to reach upward to try to accomplish it with your hands.
So, while a strap makes certain aspects of your stretch easier, it allows you to actually stretch deeper, making it more challenging in that way. Some stretches that commonly use straps include, but are not limited to, reclining leg pose, forward bend pose, side stretch pose, dancer’s pose, and boat pose.
A Yoga Wedge Gives You Joint Support
If joint pain has ever interfered with your yoga practice, a yoga wedge will provide you with some relief. For example, if your wrists are a deterrent from taking another vinyasa flow during your practice, a yoga wedge could remove that obstacle for you.
A wedge changes the angle of a pose in a way that alleviates the pressure put on whichever joints are taking on the most weight. Whether you’re concerned about your wrists in downward dog, or your knees in squatting poses, a yoga wedge can help you focus on your practice instead of your pain.
A Yoga Blanket Expands Your Comfort Zone Beyond the Mat
Like bolsters, yoga blankets are most commonly used for restorative yoga practices. Like any blanket, one reason to use them is for warmth and another is to comfortably spread yourself out on the floor.
When you increase the room temperature for hot yoga, one benefit is that you can achieve a deeper stretch. Blankets keep you warm too, so you can stay warm while you hold poses for an extended period of time, getting deeper and deeper within the warming comfort of your blanket.
Additionally, you can use your blanket as a more moldable bolster. You can also use your blanket to support your joints. With a little creativity, your blanket can take the place of other types of yoga props. You can fold it and position it in a myriad of ways for your personal comfort and support. You can also extend the comfort of your mat beyond its reach.
A Meditation Cushion Lengthens Your Spine and Your Time Spent Meditating on the Mat
If meditation is an important part of your yoga practice, a meditation cushion should be as well. You don’t want discomfort to cut your meditation short any more than you want bad posture to restrict your breathing and thereby the benefits of your meditation.
By supporting the natural curve of your lower back, a meditation cushion helps you maintain alignment in your spine while you meditate. Proper spinal alignment improves your breathing, and deep breathing is how meditation begins.
The purpose of meditation is largely to bring you awareness, though the kind of awareness frequently varies. What you don’t want is to be constantly aware of your lower back pain. When wondering “why use yoga props,” consider the way they might help you avoid any pain that would make you leave a pose or end your practice earlier.
Yoga Socks Keep Your Vinyasa Flow Flowing
If slipping on your mat ever disrupts your practice, you might find yoga socks helpful. Yoga socks are more of a yoga accessory than a prop, but they’re included here because, like props, they can help you get the most out of your practice.
There’s no point to a downward dog when you’re slipping. And, in fact, a sliding downward dog can put more unwanted pressure on your wrists.
Yoga Gloves Keep Your Planks in Place
Don’t let sweaty hands be an excuse for slipping out of your planks. Yoga gloves can keep you in place when you work your core during yoga practice. Of course, there are plenty of other poses for which yoga gloves can support you, especially if you practice hot yoga. It’s great to get sweaty in a hot yoga class, but you don’t want slippery palms to keep you from flowing.
A Yoga Wheel Helps You Improve Your Flexibility
If you’re working up toward your backbend, a yoga wheel could get you there faster. Yoga wheels are designed to support your spine while you work to increase your flexibility. You can get different sizes for different purposes.
A large yoga wheel is meant for your back, but smaller wheels can assist you in achieving a full pigeon pose. It is also a great assistant for learning forearm inversions. Ultimately a yoga wheel can lengthen your spine, improve your flexibility, and make you truly better at yoga. It can improve your poses, deepening your stretch in a safe way. It can also help you with some of the more challenging poses in yoga, such as inversions.
Eye Pillows Take You Deeper into Your Shavasana
If you’ve ever had a yoga instructor place an eye pillow on you during shavasana, you know the immediate calm it brings on. They often have a calming scent to them, such as lavender.
The scent of lavender aids sleep, reduces stress, and relieves anxiety. Focusing on your breath helps you achieve deep relaxation, but an eye pillow can help you achieve it more easily and comfortably. Eye pillows can also help restore your equilibrium and regulate your digestive system.
Yoga props are meant to support you physically. They can also support you mentally. If you’re working up to a new pose or trying to really improve your practice by improving your strength and flexibility, yoga props can be your stepping stones. Props can make you more comfortable, and they can make you feel safer. Ultimately, they push you in the right direction while preventing you from straining anything or putting too much pressure on your joints.