With the birth of Iyengar style yoga, the use of props has increased over the last sixty years. The Iyengar tradition stresses, through the use of props, to obtain the proper alignment of the body in a pose. The use of props helps the body achieve this alignment safely even when flexibility and balance are issues. Now, many different styles of yoga have adopted the use of props in their practice.
Blankets – Blankets are a versatile prop that can be used in many different forms. Folded blankets can provide support while sitting or lying down. For example, if you have difficulty sitting on your heels in child’s pose; place a folded blanket between the backs of your thighs and calves.
Blocks – Blocks are helpful in maintaining your balance or alignment while in a pose. They can also provide relief when your flexibility limits your ability to perform a pose. Blocks are most effective during standing poses when you just cannot reach the floor. For example, many beginners have difficulty touching the floor in Half Moon Pose. Use the block on its tallest side to support the lower arm and to aid in maintaining your balance.
Straps – Straps are useful in poses where you cannot touch your hands together or cannot reach your toes. They are also useful in deepening poses. For example, in Reclining Big Toe Pose, the use of a strap is common to deepen the stretch of the hamstrings and calves.
Bolsters – Bolsters can be an essential prop when practicing restorative poses, stretching the spine, and deep meditative breathing. They can also be helpful during prenatal yoga in supporting the lower back. For example, use a bolster underneath your knees during Corpse Pose to deepen your relaxation.
Props do not have to be limited to the types or usages described above. Everyday household items can become a prop out of necessity. Neckties, walls, tables, chairs, and books can all provide assistance in deepening your practice.