3 yoga props i can't live without!

3 yoga props that
I can't live without!

March 18, 2016

In my mid-20’s I enrolled in an Iyengar beginner series. That was my introduction to yoga and my infatuation with props. I remember thinking props were cool…and I still do.

Props are used as aids to increase awareness of a pose or posture and can help to deepen a pose, making it accessible and safe.  

Commonly used props are mats, blankets, blocks, straps, bolsters, and sand bags.

One yoga discipline that is distinguished for its use of props is Iyengar Yoga. It focuses on classic postures, with a high degree of attention to alignment. 

Restorative Yoga is all about the props. Ultimately, props support the body by enabling us to open into and hold a pose or posture and receive the benefits they offer. These poses feel amazing as they refresh revive our bodies.

 3 essential prop to have at home: 2 blocks, one 10-foot strap and a bolster.

3 essential prop to have at home: 2 blocks, one 10-foot strap and a bolster.

Last year I started taking classes at a wonderful
studio in East Hampton called KamaDeva, they offer 2 restorative classes each week.  I began to take them as a way to relax and renew my body from the stresses and strains of daily life.  Whether you sit at a computer all day, are on your feet moving, or a parent carrying a child around on your hip, restorative poses can help relax and realign.

One day I wondered why I didn’t have my own props at home, so  I can enjoy these beneficial poses at will. 

Then it occurred to me what a great idea it would be to give props as a gift. To myself or to others. Here’s what I recommend: 2 blocks, 1 - 10 foot strap and 1 bolster, an add-on would be a mat and blankets, but likely you have a rug and blankets around the house.

It was after a restorative class, when we used an arsenal of 7 props, I thought to ask my teacher if she would demonstrate poses for Jeanne Journal.  This would allow us to do restorative poses at home with video instruction and props.  Voila here it is…

Meet Tonia D’Angelo Slade…

Tonia  teaches yoga classes and leads yoga retreats, as well she does Reiki therapy.

Her classes have a wonderful mix of chanting, aromatherapy, meditation; all that combined with her generous and nurturing spirit.  I asked Tonia the following questions to prepare us for the poses she teaches in the videos that follow.

What are restorative poses? 
“They are poses that help restore peace and calm to the nervous system. Because we are all over stimulated, we swing like a pendulum, from over excitement to collapse.  We need to consciously restore ourselves to somewhere in between. Think of restorative poses like filling your cup up.”

Why are props so important to these poses?
"Props support the body so you can fully release and relax into the props, you want no muscular tension."

Why should we do restorative poses?
"It’s a way of reducing stress.  Whenever you can, take the time to rebalance. It really doesn’t matter how long you do it, it’s more important that you do it regularly, rather than once in a while."  
Tonia can be contacted through her website at  BeYourBestHealth.com

4 Restorative Poses

Reclined Bound Angle Pose 

Supported Twist Pose 

Supported Child's Pose 

Elevated Leg Pose 


the 3 Yoga Props

JJ Tip: When you are buying yoga props to use at home, choose colors that match your home's decor. If they are left out, they will blend in.

 two blocks

two blocks

 one 10-foot strap

one 10-foot strap

 one bolster

one bolster


Here are two books that Tonia recommends as a companion while practicing restorative yoga. 

 

Go In and In                    by Danna Faulds

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51YYvbrjoUL._SX405_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg
 

 

 

 

Relax & Renew                  by Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T


Sharing Wisdom on Yoga...

I wanted include more insights from other respected yoga teachers, so I asked the same 3 questions to Jessica Bellofatto, Roey Ficaro and Veronica Mezinna.

 

Jessica Bellofatto

KamaDeva Yoga Studio, is owned by Jessica Bellofatto.  She is a yogi on the mat and paddle board.  The studio has a great vibe and a great sense of community. There are vibrant blue walls; warm hardwood floors; lots of natural light from the surrounding windows and has beautiful sun burst light fixtures studded across the ceiling.  It’s all good. 

 

What are restorative poses?
Restorative Yoga is a therapeutic style of Yoga which we can credit to BKS Iyengar and Judith Lasater in which postures are held for a longer period of time in a completely supported way to allow the body to release deeply. They may be supine or prone, seated, standing, backbends or inversions but allow the body to relax completely.

Why are props so important to these poses?  
Props are so important because the body must be as supported as possible for the most benefit.  Thus, perhaps the head is resting on a block of bolster in a standing or seated forward bend or even in downward dog, in a supine pose there may be props under the body in such a way that the body is in a gentle backbend to open the heart and facilitate the breath and then perhaps there are sandbags on the thighs or even the hands or low belly to create a sense of grounding and weightedness which is deeply soothing to the nervous system.  

Why should we do restorative poses?
We should do restorative poses because most of us are deeply stressed out and may not even be aware of the amount of stress that is stored in the cells of the body. Poor digestion, insomnia, depression,  and other health issues can be alleviated or cured through the practice of restorative Yoga and deep relaxation.

 

Roey Ficaro

 photo credit: Alex Spergel

photo credit: Alex Spergel

What are restorative poses? 
The poses in restorative yoga are designed in a sequence to move the spine in all directions.  Forward Bends, Backbends, and gentle  twist to left then to the right.  According to my teacher Judith Lasater, These movements illustrate the age-old wisdom of yoga that well-being is enhanced by a healthy spine and brings health and vitality to the body as well as soften up tight areas such as hamstrings and hips. 

Why are props so important to these poses?
Props are the accessories of our yoga practice, they enhance the pose and add stability and support.  When the body is still, only then can the Nervous System begin to deactivate into the parasympathetic state and drop into deep relaxation in order to release effects of stress, tension and negativity. Restorative Yoga utilizes props to keep the body still and safe while in a pose so the proprioceptors can give the body the message to release deeply into the supports to allow tight areas to soften.  In turn the Nervous System can move from Sympathetic, (fight or flight), into the parasympathetic state where total relaxation can be achieved to relieve the effects of chronic stress. 

Why should we do restorative poses?
To bring the body/mind/spirit back to a place of homeostasis.  To reconnect with ourselves in a deeper way.  Connecting with the breath, sensations in the body, moving the spine in different directions and releasing tension brings a deep level of healing on many levels including the cellular level.  We should all do this practice to take care of ourselves. It is the most effective, safe, enjoyable way to achieve self care.  Unfortunately many people are unable to give to themselves and receive.  Or there is a perception that over effecting or powering through something is more beneficial.  Roey teaches at Kamadeva and is available for for privates, semi privates and healings. She can be contacted on Facebook  at: Freeandfearlesswithroey

 

Veronica Mezzina

 photo credit:Philip DiResta

photo credit:Philip DiResta

What are restorative pose?
 In a restorative practice, the body is supported by props in a pose for several minutes in order to encourage a state of deep relaxation, equanimity and well being.  So, it can be said that restorative poses are receptive poses, not the active poses we associate with most other styles of yoga.

Why are props so important to these poses?
The use of props is essential in a restorative practice because they help your body fully release into the pose therefore facilitating feelings of surrender, comfort and peace.

Why should we do restorative poses? In our multi-tasking, fast paced lives, very often "doing" takes precedence over just "being."    Restorative poses help us to let go--of agenda, of tension, of daily stress--so that we can practice mindful awareness and create space, balance and clarity in body and mind.  Veronica teaches at KamaDeva and can be contacted at: vmezzina@optonline.net


Thank you to everyone! 


Tonia D'Angelo Slade for teaching us these beautiful poses and for sharing your wisdom.

Jessica Bellofatto, Roey Ficaro and Veronica Mezinna for contributing your insights on this subject.

Ted Delano for creative & technical consulting and for trying to keep me moving forward.