Whether you attend your first yoga class or your 50th, each pose will feel different on any given day. Your body is always changing, and an asana (posture) you could once enter with ease may feel less accessible all of a sudden. But fear not! This is part of the yoga experience and can help some practitioners with embracing change and honoring the body in the moment. Plus, it is not a good idea to push your body into a contortion it just doesn’t want to perform . You run the risk of serious injury, not to mention the fact that it simply won’t feel good.
However, this is where props can help – and no, we don’t mean bringing along your BABY-G watch to check the length of time you have been trying to reach your toes in a seated forward bend. Any seasoned yoga teacher may encourage their student to use blocks, straps or blankets in class, not only for the days when you feel more stiff than usual, but also to help your body to attempt the pose. Because, more often than not, trying a new movement can be one of the best things to do in yoga class to increase blood flow, enjoy a great stretch and encourage energy to shift in a new way around the body.
You can breathe and relax into the postures
When you take away the competitive element to a posture, you may be able to relax into it more deeply. Self magazine said that props can help you achieve a more Zen approach to the movements in class by taking away the determination to overstretch a body part. For example, if you want to enjoy a hamstring stretch but cannot get your hands to your feet, wrapping a strap around the balls of your feet and holding one end in each hand can lengthen your reach. You won’t be caught up in trying to grab your feet and instead may enjoy the sensation of your muscles opening. Additionally, while enjoying this feeling, you will be free to breathe deeply, further quieting the mind and enhancing calm. Long, steady breaths from the diaphragm can boost the parasympathetic nervous system.
You can make the practice right for you
Mind, Body, Green stated that props allow yoga to be more accessible to everyone, not just the super-flexible. It can help you better open your body, eventually increasing your range of motion and accommodating parts of the body where there may be muscle imbalances. Additionally, you will learn the importance of alignment in postures; it doesn’t matter how deep you go into a move if the other side of your body is not correctly situated. This can lead to injury and you won’t experience the full effects of the pose. So, instead of trying to be like the teacher in front of you – who may or may not be using a prop – you can allow your body to experience the right kind of motion or stance and understand its benefits.
Yoga is about letting go, of expectations, of each posture and of attachment. If props can help you with this, then by all means incorporate them into your practice – of course, with the guidance of a trained, certified yoga instructor.
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