By Faye Martins

The reasons why yoga props will always have a place in every studio and class, no matter what the skill level or flexibility of the practitioners, is because they elevate the integrity of many poses and allow those who would not otherwise be able to get into said poses, due to flexibility limitations, to access them properly.

Even the yoga mat can be considered a potent prop beyond just providing a consistent, padded, absorbent surface to practice on. The shape of the mat beneath one’s feet provides a grounding focus for the eyes, while training in balancing moves. It provides a consistent means of spacing the feet out against its edges in lunges, warriors, and triangles. The edges of the mat encourage a goal point for putting weight on the outside edges of the feet and heels.

Blocks serve a great purpose for both advanced yoga practitioners and beginners. Wide-legged postures for both naturally flexible individuals, and for those who have gotten there with great effort, is pertinent to maintaining the health of the hip girdle. Regular stretching of the hips keeps the hamstrings, IT bands and calves loose to maintain the integrity of the walking stride as well as the running stride. Hard (bamboo or wooden) yoga blocks make excellent steps from which to continue calf stretching.

Yoga straps may be necessary for building back flexibility, especially since doing bridges has limited ability to create space between vertebrate. Bridges may be useful for those who have the flexibility and shoulder strength to maintain them from the get go, but yoga straps are especially necessary for those who are not to the point of doing strong bridges that maintain wrist integrity. Equal back flexibility throughout the vertebral column is important for sustaining lengthened and open pectoral, intercostal, and psoas muscles. Keeping all of these areas limber will help prevent back, shoulder and neck pain, that results from a modern technological lifestyle and sitting for long hours. A great way to start building flexibility with a yoga strap is to begin in pigeon pose with the yoga strap wrapped around the ankle of the straight leg. A yoga block under the higher hip of the bent leg will be helpful for maintaining balance. Bend the back knee, while pulling on the strap overhead, feeling stretch in your shoulders. Bend the back leg. Your back will follow.

Props Today and Tomorrow

The world of yoga is always changing. Although the basic moves and philosophy remain the same, there are great innovations when it comes to props. Many instructors and yoga enthusiasts now include props as an integral component of their yoga sessions to get the most out of their routine. When props accompany yoga exercises, participants are able to adapt their movements. This is especially helpful for individuals who are pregnant, have had injuries, or deal with chronic pain. Props can allow individuals to extend their movements as well. Many of the popular props can be seen at a glance below.

Stretch Straps

Stretch straps are always an excellent accessory for an intense yoga session. While there is nothing new about the concept of a strap or resistance band, many stretch straps have been improved with the addition of numerous handholds. As participants work their way through a stretch or move, they can continue to progress through the handholds until their flexibility improves.

Socks and Gloves with Grips

While they are not necessarily a prop, socks and gloves with grips are an excellent addition to get the most out of a yoga workout. From having more stability on the floor, to a better hold on the soles of the feet, this simple piece of footwear can prevent injury and help a person to get to the next level.

Yoga Bench Accompanied with Stretch Bands

A variety of yoga benches have been created that have versatile functions. From using it as a prop for enhanced strength and flexibility, to having a mount for a handstand, it can propel one’s yoga performance to new heights. Add stretch bands to combine resistance training with traditional yoga poses.

Yoga Bolster

Yoga bolsters act as a cushion and provide comfort while performing stretches. These supportive props are available in a range of sizes. Some are inflatable, allowing users to adjust the amount of air, in order to improve each yoga pose. They are a positive addition to any routine, as they assist in creating safe conditions during exercising.

Ergonomic Seat Accessories

For a yoga teacher, the principles of using props in classes, for posture alignment, create a form of exercise that can improve skeletal health and become a way of life for students. Therefore, it is only natural that yoga props should also carry over into everyday life. Ergonomic seats have been designed to encourage good posture for this very reason. The fact is: As yoga props develop, so will every day furniture in the average office and home. Hatha yoga is good for skeletal health and props will continue to evolve, due to the number of people who are taking preventative action to reduce or eliminate pain.

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