Hi everyone! Welcome back to the Bulldog Yoga Youtube Channel! I’m Kelly
And I’m Brittany, and we’re leaders here at Bulldog. Today we have an awesome yoga props tutorial for you–breaking down what common props are used in the physical practice of yoga, how to use them, and then we’re going to bring in our friend and fellow leader Michelle for a little DIY on how to make your own props at home if you don’t want to buy them!
Yoga props are important for providing a little extra support in some poses. Using tools like blocks or straps can help offset a limited range of motion or tightness and help make a pose easier to get into and hold.
Props can definitely help to increase your steadiness in a pose. Obviously, not every body is the same, so everyone is going to need to modify or expanded poses differently. Props essentially even the playing field, aiding you in bringing the ground to you or making it easier to touch your toes, even.
They can also be really useful when you’re engaging in a restorative yoga practice. If you’re going to be holding a pose for awhile, it can be more comfortable to gently prop up a certain body part so you can stay comfortable for longer and get the full effects of a restorative pose.
Let’s review some common yoga props and how to use them:
Alright, so just about every studio has a stack of these laying around. This is a yoga block! They can be made of foam, cork, wood… there are a lot of different block options out there, but they all have the same purpose.
I think the easiest way to sum up the benefit of blocks is that they bring the ground to you.
I love that! And depending on how much help you need reaching the ground, each block has three different “levels,” if you will. [Brit rotates the block] The first is the “lowest” setting, for a gentle lift off the ground. The next middle height is slightly taller. By rotating it one more time, you get even more height and you can easily rest your hand on the top like a shelf. Depending on the day and the pose, you can adjust your use of the block to accommodate your body.
Using a block to help you come into proper alignment in a pose helps your muscle memory—by giving your body some help while hanging out in a posture and picking a height that feels good, if you continue practicing that pose, you might not even need that block anymore because you know how it should feel in proper alignment!
Blocks are helpful in standing poses like triangle and side angle, when you might find that your arms awkwardly dangle down. You can use blocks to support them so you have a strong upper body while your lower body is more grounded.
The Chopra Center even recommends sliding a block between your legs in your backbends to encourage the internal rotation of your upper thighs. Who knew a little tool like a block could help you gain so much strength!
Another common yoga prop is the strap. [holds up strap] For those of you who are tight in places like your shoulders, hamstrings, and even hips, this is the prop for you!
While you don’t necessarily need any extra equipment to practice yoga, having a little extra length is nice sometimes! Backbends like King Pigeon and tiger, or even some twists, feel great with that aid, and it doesn’t matter how flexible you are!
Never force your body into a pose if it’s not comfortable for you. If you have limited mobility, gently looping your legs together might help you access a certain stretch more easily. For example, I like to hang wrap a strap around my feet in waterfall pose to pull my toes towards my face and stretch out the backs of my legs.
Just like how a block brings the ground to you, a strap brings part of you… to another part of you!
If you have a restorative yoga practice, adding bolsters and blankets to your poses can make all the difference when it comes to comfort. Everyday Health recommends keeping your body warm in restorative poses, so in resting postures, a blanket can simply serve as… a blanket! Drape it across yourself to stay cozy or roll it up and prop yourself up on top of it gently wherever you’re needing a little extra support.
When I’m chilling in a pose like heart bench, I really like to use a bolster to make sure that my heart is lifting high and my shoulders can drop back.
Bolsters are really just overstuffed cushions, so feel free to slide one under any part of your body requiring some grounded support. In restorative, long holds of poses like forward fold and butterfly, you can even rest the bolster on top of your legs and drape your upper body over it.
There are no strict rules when it comes to prop use—simply use them as instruments to get stronger and longer! The only things you really need to practice yoga are your body and your breath… but sometimes grabbing a handy prop can make all the difference in your practice. And if you don’t have props at home? No worries! Let’s meet our fellow leader Michelle on the mat and talk about how to create your own props at-home!
Meet Michelle! She’s going to help up with our little prop DIY today. Michelle is our in-house restorative yoga expert, so we come to her for all things props because she has some handy tricks for using them in your at-home yoga practice.
Hey Kelly! Hey Brit! I’m so excited to be here! I love talking about props—I think they can really help any level yogi refine their yoga practice, and once you know the basics of how to use them, you can get creative with them.
I know that some people don’t have access to “official” [air quotes] yoga props, so I have some ideas about how you can make your own at home. It’s easier to do than it sounds—no need to spend any money or go out of your way to buy them when you probably have some things lying around at home that can serve as props.
Now, Kelly: I know you’re a big Harry Potter fan…
HUGE Harry Potter fan. Like, I bring the whole series with me wherever I go. [Kelly pulls out a stack of Harry Potter books. Michelle grabs one]
Awesome! Well, a thick book like this one, or a stack of small ones, makes for an awesome yoga block. Grab the novel you’re reading, or rubber band a few kids chapter books together, and you have yourself an easy way to reach the ground in standing balancing poses like half-moon, or even pyramid.
Now Brit, I want you to try this makeshift strap. If you don’t have a yoga strap at home, you can use a belt and loop it around your foot, keeping the ends in your hands to make it easier to touch your toes in poses like dancer or a pistol squat.
It definitely does help me!
I’m so glad! See, props really can help those who don’t think they’re very flexible. The more you practice these poses using tools, the easier it eventually will be to practice them without help.
Now, everyone has blankets and pillows at home, so they can make nice alternatives to bolsters. Rolling a blanket and placing it under your knees can help alleviate the stress of a forward fold on the backs of your legs if you have tight hamstrings. Pillows can be used in a pose like reclined butterfly. If you have tight hips, you can slide a pillow under each knee for some more support.
And if you’d like to lay low in heart bench, slide a pillow lengthwise underneath your spine instead of a bolster.
I like how you can even use a pillow in lieu of a meditation cushion!
My last trick involves a towel. [Michelle waves small hand towel] If you have tight shoulders and have trouble clasping your hands in postures like side angle or when binding, roll up a thin hand towel and grab either end to create some space between your hands.
See how easy it is to figure out ways to modify poses at home?! Seriously, there are no limits here—you can grab a box of tissues to make a block, you can use a scarf as a strap… and maybe if you want to add weights to your yoga workout you can grab some cans or a gallon of laundry detergent!
The options are endless. I hope you guys have fun playing around with props at home!
Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge, Michelle! I’ll definitely be looking at my bookshelf in a new way now.
Alright Bulldoggers, thanks for tuning in to learn about yoga props. Do you have a clever idea for a homemade prop? We’d love to hear it! Comment down below how you’ll be using props in your at-home yoga workout now.
And as always, if you want full classes to follow along with as you continue to grow your yoga practice, come visit us over at bulldogonline.com. We have a huge library of all-level classes that are prop-friendly and waiting for you to try for 30 days free. Come play with us!