How to Use Your Yoga Props
Blankets and bolsters and blocks, oh my! Wedges and straps and mats, oh my! You’ve probably seen them all, in photos or in your local studio or gym. But what are you supposed to do with them?
If you attend an Iyengar, Kripalu, Anusara, Viniyoga or Restorative class, you probably have a good idea how to use at least some of them. Other classes, such as Power, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Vinyasa and Hot Yoga might also employ yoga props here and there. But there are so many choices.
That’s why we’ve published our Yoga Prop Guide. You can see it above, or if you want to see a larger version, you can find it here.
Props Are for Everybody
Most of the yoga props we use today were devised by B.K.S. Iyengar. Iyengar began his Yoga practice with T. Krishnamacharya, who also taught K. Patabhi Jois, T.K.V. Desikachar and Indra Devi. According to the website of the Iyengar Yoga Association of Greater New York (IYAGNY), Iyengar developed yoga props to help practitioners of all ages, body types and experience levels to be able to maximize the benefits of their practice. Here’s how IYAGNY describes it:
“B.K.S. Iyengar introduced props into the modern practice of yoga to allow all practitioners access to the benefits of the postures regardless of physical condition, age, or length of study. Props help all practitioners (including the most advanced) gain sensitivity to the use of effort and receive the deep benefits of postures held over significant time periods. Props are introduced from the beginning for students with specific physical limitations and gradually in regular classes to enhance personal understanding of a posture and its effects and to develop skill and confidence.
“Props include sticky mats, blankets, belts, blocks, benches, wall ropes, sandbags, chairs, and other objects that help students experience the various yoga poses more profoundly. Props may be used in class to encourage students, bolster confidence, and create optimal body alignment.
“Allowing students to practice asanas (yoga postures) and pranayamas (breathing patterns) with greater effectiveness, ease, and stability, props provide support for the body and allow the mind to relax and more profoundly receive the benefits of the yoga.”
How We Got Started
Hugger Mugger’s founder, Sara Chambers, was a student of Iyengar Yoga in 1986 when she began making props for students and teachers in her local Salt Lake City classes. Her first creation was a strap—1-1/2 inches wide with a metal D-ring buckle—made to the late Mary Dunn’s specifications. A pair of made-for-Yoga shorts followed the next day. A custom furniture builder, Sara then branched off into making wooden blocks. Soon she was carrying nonskid mats and blankets, and making bolsters, sandbags and clothing. By the late 1980s, Sara’s little company was full-fledged, international yoga props supplier.
We hope our Prop Guide will be a helpful teaching tool for your practice and classes. The Prop Guide gives just a few examples of uses for each prop. Of course, we encourage you to come up with your own uses. We’d love to hear your ideas.
If you have questions about any of our props, please contact our knowledgeable staff of Yoga teachers (1-800-473-4888) for more information. You can also talk to our staff via the live chat feature on our website.