Blocks can be a great way to bring the floor to you. This can be particularly helpful in postures such as Triangle, where the emphasis is on opening the chest, rather than reaching the floor. To help the students understand the purpose of the props, be sure to tell them what you want them to experience in the posture (ie. opening.) While props are helpful, less is more. Too many props can be cumbersome. Be sure all props are in good condition and are clean before sharing with the class. If you are going to have the whole class use blocks for your class, be sure to pass them out before class.
Benefits of Props
Prevalent in Yin, Restorative and Iyengar classes, but the use of props is encouraged to enhance ANY style or practice. Props are extremely beneficial for those that have a limited range of movement, such as beginners or those suffering from an injury.
Make certain poses more accessible – by “raising the floor” or “lengthening your limbs” creating more space to move, twist, balance, etc.
Provide support so that muscles can release.
Make you comfortable during savasana.
Can provide a sense of “accomplishment” by attaining an aesthetically pleasing posture.
Assists in gaining flexibility or increasing range of movement over time.
Downsides of Props
While beneficial, there can be a tendency to become dependent on them. Many beginners are taught to use a block to access Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), however, a student can stunt personal growth if they become reliant on the block, resisting finding length by reaching for the floor in fears of falling out of the pose.
It can be a distraction – can be cumbersome during a vinyasa or power flow if you are not well versed. They can also be dangerous if a student lacks awareness of their surroundings and accidentally trips or steps on a prop lying on the floor.
While props can assist a student in a pose, it can lead a student to go deeper into a pose than their body is ready for – e.g. a strap is a wonderful tool to access Padangusthasana (Big-toe Pose) with tight hamstrings – however there can be an urge to pull a bit too much in search for a “deeper stretch” and actually cause injury.
· Mats – cotton/rubber or combination of both, thin/thick
· Yoga socks and gloves
· Blocks – foam, cork, and wood – in different sizes, including wedges.
· Straps – Traditional D-ring straps, Infinity straps, or fixed loops.
· Blankets / Towels
· Stools / Benches
· Yoga Wheel
· Folding chair, regular or backless.
· Headstand stool/yoke
· Yoga wall with ropes and straps
· Yoga swing/hammock and straps
· Stand-Up Paddleboard
· Wall/back of a couch