It’s common that yoga practitioners share a specific attitude toward the usage of props – particularly those who are well-seasoned practitioners. There’s a misconception of props being a sign of weakness or the inability to perform the "full pose." But this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Yoga props actually strengthen and progress one’s practice, no matter what level they may be.
Here’s what I’ve learned in my own practice: props are tools. Props aren’t just for beginners; they can be used to develop and even deepen dimensions of asana practice. The humble yoga block, for example, gives us countless ways to vary our practice—highlighting sensations that help us experience a pose in a brand new way. In many ways, the utilization of props can be a humbling experience of accepting and/or needing extra support for your best practice – a beautiful way to soften the mental limitations that our egos can place on us.
Backbends: The framework provided by the blocks allows us to relax completely, encouraging stubborn postural tension to dissolve from the pectoralis major and minor muscles. This allows for thoracic spine extension, giving us deeper range in heart-openers like Bow Pose, Dance Pose, and Camel Pose.
Shoulder Openers: Adding blocks under your elbows makes the stretch even juicier, creating space for your chest to melt below the height of your arms. It’s also a helpful warm-up for poses with overhead arms, including Handstand and Wheel Pose. This variation can also be a satisfying counter to poses that require latissimus dorsal and tricep strength, like Upward Plank Pose.
Sun Salutations: Holding a block between your thighs as you flow through Sun Salutations will help you vividly feel the support and stability you can gain by accessing the adductors, especially in the challenging transitions. The usage of a block with not only enhance the strengthening action of your body but illuminate better body awareness.
Hip Openers: When releasing psoas tension, we often think of strong stretches like a Low Lunge, but using the block to prop us in more gentle hip extension allows us to stay for a longer period of time, gradually relaxing deep tension out of the psoas.