When you were brand new to yoga you probably thought the only tools needed were your body and your mat. While the minimalist approach is enough for some, incorporating a few props can enrich your practice. While there are many options, the four props used at Chagrin Yoga are the bolster, blanket, block and strap.
A bolster is a cylindrical or rectangular cushion used for reclined or seated poses. A bolster provides a lift and cushion from the floor. Due to injury or lack of flexibility, some find certain poses difficult. In such cases, a bolster offers comfort and assists in better form. Bolsters are best used in reclined and seated poses.
CHAGRIN YOGI TIP: We love a bolster under the hips for an elevated legs up a wall, and there’s nothing like a nice long reclined hero’s pose with the spine and head resting on a bolster.
A yoga blanket is a lightweight, versatile blanket used to help support different poses. It can be rolled and used as support behind your knees, head or back. The extra padding or height boost a blanket offers makes it similar to a bolster, yet it can also be used as a cover during savasana, aiding in relaxation.
CHAGRIN YOGI TIP: Next time your instructor calls for an inversion, grab a folded blanket… the top of your head will thank you and you’ll be able to hang out upside down a lot longer. Blankets also come in handy if you need extra padding under your knees in table top or other kneeling poses.
Yoga Blocks, made of firm cork or foam, provide support, help increase balance and flexibility and assist in holding your pose longer and more comfortably. When muscles are tight, they provide extra reach and assist alignment. They can be used singularly or in pairs. Blocks are designed with three different heights, so be sure to experiment and use the height that’s right for you.
CHAGRIN YOGI TIP: Blocks help bring the floor closer so you can focus on alignment during poses such as triangle pose and half moon. We also love a block under the sacrum for supported bridge pose.
Yoga straps are made of braided or woven cotton and are typically about 6 feet long. By acting as an extension of your limbs, a strap assists in deepening your stretches by addressing tight hips, shoulders and hamstrings.
CHAGRIN YOGI TIP: Grab a strap for your next class and try looping it around your foot for a deeper reclined (or standing) hamstring stretch. Straps are also handy for forward folds with hands clasped behind your back, seated forward folds and standing side bends with arms overhead.
Yoga props are not just for beginners. They can be used at any level. By serving as a foundation to better understand your body alignment and limits, props can deepen your practice and allow you to truly experience deep relaxation.