Yoga Props and Your Practice

alignment

YOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE

When it comes to incorporating yoga props into our yoga practice, we can take 1 of 2 paths. We either subscribe to the notion that if we use props, we are somehow “less capable” than others in the execution of postures, or we can welcome props with open arms. Using yoga props in our practice can help us achieve greater accessibility within a given posture, and they provide opportunities for us to explore our alignment. They also allow us to discover where our strengths and challenges reside. In today’s video, Matt demonstrates how we can more carefully explore techniques in various postures with a variety of yoga props to move us towards greater understanding of our bodies. This understanding ultimately leads towards an unlocking and expansion of our highest potential.

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DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

It might be surprising to see Matt using a camera tripod as a yoga prop in the first part of today’s video, but what’s great about this portion of the demonstration is that he’s not recommending using a tripod as a prop, but it serves as a very quick “how-to” to incorporate what he’s actually suggesting–a broom or a wooden dowel. This part of the video also serves as a reminder that we have license to be creative with our use of yoga props (as long as they are safe of course).

Later, he offers greater detail in both an Open and Closed Seated Twist and in Revolved Side Angle. 

The point of using a prop in this way is to lock into the expansion of the chest and isolation of the spine in twist postures, which removes the common tendency of compensating with the shoulders in twist postures.

WATCH THE VIDEO

YOGA PROPS AND YOUR PRACTICE: 5 POSTURES TO MULTIPLY YOUR POTENTIAL

TRAIN WITH A CHAIR

If it feels like “train” is the wrong choice of word here, please hear me out. What I really mean is to develop our practice through the use of a chair in foundational postures so as to better practice specific techniques. Matt offers A LOT of opportunities to incorporate various techniques in the following 2 postures with a chair:

Warrior 2

In Warrior 2, we can explore the placement of the pelvis, activation of the legs (glutes and adductors in particular), and strengthening of the ankles and feet. Matt demonstrates the exploration of these techniques while sitting on the edge of the chair and then again translating the techniques while slightly lifting off of the chair. Going back and forth here can help reveal where challenges exist.

Extended Side Angle

Again, the chair provides a checking-in point for the positioning of the groin and further exploration of how to strengthen the legs.

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BLOCKS FOR MORE THAN BALANCE

It just so happens that in this demonstration, we again explore the importance of the positioning of the pelvis. The intent is to find a position where the pelvis on the side of the elevated leg is just slightly lifted. When we find the ideal positioning in our bodies, we’re better able to activate the glutes and hamstrings of the raised leg. To go even further, the tucking of the sit bone in the standing leg encourages the same outcome.

Why are the use of the blocks and a wall important here? This exploration/negotiation becomes much easier when we are supported. We can then challenge ourselves to lessen the weight on the blocks to see if we are able to maintain the strength we have cultivated. It’s therefore about much more than balance; it’s about how to foster strength.

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PROPS AND POTENTIAL

As we can see from the video, yoga props (and other tools for that matter) can be like our own private yoga teachers offering adjustments. We can observe this effect in Twist postures. It can be easy to fall into familiar patterns with yoga poses we engage in regularly, but when we incorporate props into our practice, we can better explore more functional alignment. This will have a greater impact on muscle strength and joint health. When we nurture these areas in our asana practice, we can better achieve our true potential.

Matt’s online course The Pose Factory is the perfect course to delve into these concepts. Sign up to get on the waiting list today!

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Article by Trish Curling

Videos Extracted From: Alignment Immersion

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