If you’re a yoga beginner or have tried a yoga session just for fun, you know that transitioning into different poses and maintaining your stability within each pose does not come easy. Instead of giving up on yoga, try using props as part of your practice.
Props can help you find ways to create more space, freedom, and stability in your poses. Here are some ways you can use props to make your practice better. Once you try them, you might find other creative ways to use them.
1. Use A Block To Uplift Your Down Dog
- Place two blocks lengthwise (at the lowest height) at the front of your mat. From all fours, place your hands on the blocks with fingers spread, and press back into down dog.
- Lightly gripping the blocks with your fingertips, press down through the pads of your fingers and palms and extend out through your arms.
- Lift the underside of your arms and shoulders away from the floor. Broaden your collarbones, and soften the muscles down the nape of your neck. Resist dropping your armpits toward the floor as you press the tops of your thighs back, lengthening your spine.
Placing your hands on blocks in downward facing dog pose can help you to maintain a lift through the underside of your arms and your shoulders. You will find that this creates more stability and allows you to find more length through your spine.
2. Strap Up To Bring Stability In Warrior III Pose
- With one end of a strap in each of your hands, stand in Tadasana (mountain pose), with the length of the strap resting on the floor behind your heels. Step back onto the center of the strap with your left heel.
- There should be a decent amount of tension on the strap, so adjust your grip as needed. Inhale, root down through both feet, lengthening your spine and lifting up through your sternum.
- Exhale, broaden your collarbones, stabilizing your shoulder blades onto your upper back. Continue pressing your left heel into the strap and pulling in the opposite direction with your hands.
- Lengthening the sides of your body; slowly begin to tilt your torso forward and lift your left leg back and up into Warrior III with your arms alongside your torso. To release, slowly lower your lifted leg back down to the floor, step off the strap, and repeat on the other side.
The dynamic action of pushing back through the lifted heel while also pulling forward with the hands feels very stable. This allows you to stabilize your core while lengthening evenly through your spine.
3. Dig Deeper In Low Lunge With A Block
- Begin in a lunge position with your right foot forward; your back knee is raised off the floor, hands are on the floor, and a block (at its lowest setting) is on the mat underneath your back knee. Slowly lower your left knee to the block, behind your left hip so that your thigh bone is not vertical.
- Bring your hands up onto your front thigh, and lift your torso upright. Kick your left foot up, and reach back to hold the big-toe side of your left foot with your left hand. Slowly bring the inner edge of your back foot toward the outer edge of your left hip.
- With your chest lifted, bend your front knee deeper. When you’re ready, slowly lower your left foot back to the floor, and repeat on the other side.
Placing a block under the back knee allows the pelvis to stay lifted as opposed to releasing all of your weight down into the hips. You can also place the block on the thigh just above the kneecap for a deeper thigh stretch.
4. Support Your Spine In Camel Pose With Two Blocks
- Place two blocks on your mat, on the lowest height and parallel to the front edge, and with the narrow ends together. Come to stand on your knees (hip-width apart), with your feet on the blocks and your toes curled under.
- With your hands on your hips, hug your knees energetically toward each other, reaching your tailbone down and lengthening your torso. Broaden your collarbones, and lift your sternum forward and up.
- Keeping the sides of your body long and your chest lifted, reach your hands to your heels. Root down through your knees and press your hands down into your heels to lift and broaden your chest, lengthening your spine by creating space between your rib cage and your pelvis.
- With your chest lifted, keep all sides of your neck long as you begin to take your head back and gaze up. If you feel uncomfortable, slightly tuck your chin toward your sternum.
Your spine feels supported throughout the pose. Having the feet above the knees shifts the weight more into the knees making it easier to press the hips forward and keep the thighs vertical.