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how to use props

Yoga

The Yoga Props – Enhance Your Practice

September 2, 2020

Props galore at an informal practice session at Amrutha Bindu Yoga.

After watching my yoga class recordings on YouTube, many have reached out to me about yoga props.  Whether they are required, what kind, which ones should one get?  Most of my students did not have props before they joined my classes, in fact, most of them bought props once our classes went online.  I guess most of them saw the usefulness of buying props and have seen a noticeable improvement in their practice.  I’ve built my collection of props over the years and sourced them from many different places.  My students and I have also been trying different props and brands for years and now know what works and what is likely not to work.

 

Yoga Mat

This is the prop we use the most, no wonder so many people ask me about it.  I use several mats.  The oldest and dearest one is by Reebok and I’ve had it forever, so I think it’s out of production.  In addition to this I use a cloth mats.  I have one from my teacher training days at SVYASA, and another beautiful mat from Deivee.  The yoga mat I would personally recommend is this one from Decathlon.  It sells out fast and I personally know many people who use and love it.  Plus Decathlon always seems to have them in stock.

Blocks/Bricks

Blocks/bricks are very versatile, and come in many varieties.  I started out with foam blocks from Decathlon, and then eventually expanded my collection to include wooden blocks.  I recommend getting blocks in different sizes because there are so many creative ways you can use them.  I know many people who use these cork blocks and are very happy with them.  You can also check out SVECH for some more cork blocks.

Belt/Strap

Use a belt to improve Gomukhasana.

Many years ago I told a student that the one prop I would recommend always keeping with you (including when you travel), is the yoga belt.  It can help you lengthen, twist, bind, bend forward, bend back…and much more.  To ensure your skin doesn’t chaff, your yoga belt should be made of cotton.  Another thing to ensure is that the buckles are strong to hold the belt securely in place.

I recommend the yoga belt from MeFree.

Chair

Everyone wants the chair and it’s the most difficult prop to come find!  The chair can be used in almost every yoga pose.  When students first start practice with me, I tell them to use any chair which is stable, has a straight back and no armrests.  But eventually you should get the metal chairs.  There are certain characteristics of the chair that make them apt for yogasanas – they have legs that you can hold for pinchamayurasanas, you can invert yourself safely in halasana and sarvangasana, you can even use two chairs and do a safe headstand!

Amazon doesn’t have enough variety when it comes to yoga chairs, and it’s always tricky to find a good yoga chair.  I found this one by the Friends of Meditation, and one of my students actually uses it.  I would suggest this yoga chair by MeFree too, since some of my students have bought their products and are very happy with them.

You can explore more yoga props at SVECH and MeFree

 

When the lock down started many of my students wanted to buy props.  But they were either sold out or companies weren’t delivering.  I contacted Mr. Raju here in Bangalore and he was kind enough to supply the props to us.  You can contact him on +91 9242286651.  I believe he ships to different parts of India too.

 

If you have any more questions about props, do reach out to me.

Uncategorized

The Use of Props

July 28, 2017

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Blocks and ropes have become a permanent fixture in most yoga classes.  If you are into this practice for the long term it might be helpful to invest in a few props right now.  For me props are indispensable and I use them daily.  Some I use more than others.

Mat – There are many different kinds of mats I use depending on what I’m practicing.  I have a thick mat for when I need to practice the Halasana or any other pose where I feel I need some cushioning.

Most Iyengar teachers call your regular yoga mat the ‘sticky mat’.  I own two sticky mats and I’ve had them forever.  One stays in my car and the other one I use for my personal practice.  And I’ve had these mats for over 5 years now.  I think the best thing to do for your yoga mat is to wash it regularly and hang it out to dry.  The stickiness somehow gets replenished and they are as good as new. Someone gave me this tip during my teacher’s training and I’ve recommended this to others.  I haven’t heard any complaints from anyone (yet).

Floor – I think it was in a Manouso Manos workshop that I heard that the floor is your first prop.  It gives you a solid foundation.  It stays strong during your standing, seated, prone or inverted asanas.  A clean, uncluttered surface looks inviting.  In my teacher’s class it’s a clay floor.  When it’s really hot I sometimes practice on the cool bare floor.  In my house I get the floor cleaned every day so that I have a fresh palette to play on daily.

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Wall – I started practicing the Adhomukha Vrikshasana in Pune last year.  I continued to practice it at home and have steadily moved away from the wall.  When it comes to some asanas – like handstand or the headstand – you need to determine when you are ready to move away from the wall.  In this way, the wall helps you in exploring yourself and taking risks, but at the same time staying available for you always, should you need it.

Blocks – My first blocks were foam ones that I got as part of a ‘yoga set’.  Foam blocks work well when you’re just using them for minimal support.  However, when I’m working on chest opening or the Setubandhasana, I prefer the sturdier wooden variety.

Chair – during my last retreat I shared a personal story about the Viprita Dandasana.  Basically, I would have a horrible reaction to this pose.  I would feel queasy, my heart would start racing and I would start sweating profusely in only 20 seconds.  When I went to RIMYI last year the dreaded asanas was part of a the women’s only class.  I resigned myself to 2 minutes of queasiness.  But I was pleasantly surprised.  The way Gulnaz explained the asana was so clear and concise and it opened up the asana for me.  It was one of my biggest takeaways from my time there last year.  An asana (or a problem) can seem unsurmountable until someone guides you correctly.

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Blanket – When I think of blankets I think of softness.  I use my blanket under me when I do forward folds.

Ropes – I use these daily.  Because I do traction for my back daily.  Because you should do traction for your back daily.  Because everyone should do traction for their back daily.

Belt – I use belts mainly when I need to work on shoulder opening in various asanas.  In fact, watch this video  illustrating an easy shoulder opening trick using the belt.  Also, as most of my students know, I almost always use belts in the final relaxation.

Props ALWAYS enhance your practice.  I know a lot of people think that they don’t ‘need’ props.  I used to think so too, but I now feel that if you utilize your props well then you uncover nuances of the asanas that you wouldn’t otherwise.

Leave me a question if you have one!