21st Century Yoga Props: Making Yoga More Accessible
BY DEBBY SIEGEL, MSA, 200 RYT
PHOTOS BY MICHELLE THOMAS
While yoga poses can offer many physical benefits, improper alignment in a pose can actually do harm to your body. Cues are given in yoga classes by well-intentioned teachers in order to safely guide students into poses in order to reap the asanas’ benefits while avoiding injuries. Having observed in many classes, I’ve often witnessed students’ desires to attempt postures that are beyond their body’s present capability. These risky moves can actually do damage to ligaments and joints and leave a person who is seeking more flexibility with a body less capable of movement.
To find the depth of a pose that suits your body’s physical availability in that moment, please access teaching that involves sincere cuing; a classroom that offers props; a teacher who is interested in your alignment, not grandeur; and a setting where you feel comfortable falling and/or needing assistance.
The good news about the yoga prop world, is that today there are companies engaged in designing newer tools for safely guiding bodies. These modern tools are more ergonomic, made from more eco-conscious resources, and have taken into account our present day, Western yoga practices.
BRIKs by Infinity Strap are one such product. Their additional cutouts give you improved access and more fit options. Sometimes the 90 degree corners of traditional blocks aren’t as suited to your body’s contours. YogaBRIKs help in this regard, as well as assisting people who want to distribute their weight over the span of their hand, and not dump their body weight into their wrists.
Here are some ways BRIKs are used most often in my classes:
- Forward Fold: Tight hamstrings? Separate your feet hips-width distance apart and take a BRIK in each hand. Bend your knees slightly and fold forward by hinging at your hips. Place the BRIKs in front of your toes and relax your torso (especially your head and neck) down towards the floor. If you want to spare your wrists being folded at a 90 degree angle, place the brick on one of its four cutout corners and your palm on the opposite corner, curling your fingers forward and around the edges of the BRIK.
- Triangle: Use the BRIK on it’s highest setting and place it on the floor on the inside of your front foot instead of placing your hand on your shin or the mat in triangle pose. Again, for a less wrist-straining hand placement, the BRIK can be placed on one of the cutout corners and the hand on the opposite edge.
- Half Moon: Place the BRIK about one foot in front of the toes on your balancing leg. This extra height and support will help you focus on stacking shoulders and hips.
- Pigeon: In pigeon (or half pigeon as it’s referred to as well), it’s important to keep your hips square and aligned with the front edge of your mat. If you struggle with this, place a BRIK under your right butt cheek when your right leg is forward in half pigeon, then under your left butt cheek when your left leg is forward.
- Supported Bridge: Sometimes we all need a little extra support. Come to bridge pose and place the block under your sacrum, the flat part of your back at the base of your spine. The height of the BRIK depends on your back flexibility.
- Supported Savasana: This is the final resting pose in a yoga class. Savasana can even be enhanced through props, especially with the ergonomic shape of YogaBRIKs. Lift your chest and lie back on the blocks with one block under the mid-back and the other supporting your head. Your neck should feel comfortable, and your forehead and chin should be at the same height. If you need to add extra height, a folded blanket on top of the YogaBRIKS works well too.
Yoga straps have been modernized as well. The Infinity Strap is a revolutionary stretching aid I discovered hanging on the wall at Metro Power Yoga in Kirkwood. I fell immediately in love with its uncomplicated design for enhancing my practice and was drawn to the stretchy version of it. Its infinity shape and compactness without excess material that I can trip on or a clunky buckle that hits me in the head at times, are what caused me to pull it of the wall hook at this St. Louis yoga studio. Infinity Strap offers two variations of this yoga prop: Stretch and Cotton. The Stretch model is original in that it provides a little bit of give. The Cotton model does not have extra give, but is available in 4 sizes. Both come in multiple sizes and color options. I use mine to properly place my shoulders in forearm balance, as well as reaching my top foot in standing king pigeon. But there are so many uses for these revolutionary tools.
To take your practice to another level using of these 21st century yoga props, purchase them through infinitystrap.com, and use code: YOGOGIRLS during checkout for 10% off your purchase.
If you’d like guidance using them in a classroom setting, I will be offering Compassionate Yoga classes using props in 2017 at Pura Vegan Yoga & Cafe (details online soon) and a second Let’s Give Props to Props workshop with Rebekah Jarchow at Metro Power Yoga in January.
~ Your Yoga Evangelist
You must be logged in to post a comment.