Yoga Props Yoga Strap and Block
Yoga props such as a Yoga strap and block are fantastic tools to freshen a Yoga practice with awareness and to make accessible new poses that were perhaps not manageable before. Yoga props importantly offer more support, security as well as freedom to explore a posture in a way not possible without a prop or props.
Bridge Pose (Setubandha Sarvangasana) using a block is a great example.
The Yoga block supports Bridge Pose when core and legs strength is yet to be established. The block allows more focus on opening the chest, extending the upper back, releasing the neck so eventually the hands may reach the heels. The Yoga block sits vertical on the floor with the narrow end aligned with the length of the body so the sacrum rests on the block. This pressure of sacrum to block massages and releases tension in the surrounding external hip rotator muscles and stimulates circulation. The block helps to reduce the breathing rate so that the Yogic breath known as Ujjayi can be maintained easily. Bridge pose is performed with both feet on the ground knees alignment with hips or with a variation when the pose is strong with one leg extended straight up to the sky. Then like a tripod the shoulders and support leg maintain the upward energy so the energy flows up through the skyward leg all the way to the toes. A block placed under the sacrum allows the pose to be held longer; adjustments can be made without having to come out of the pose as quickly.
Benefits of Bridge Pose:
- Fantastic pose for those who sit all day at school or work; Bridge Pose opens neck, chest and hips
- Strengthens legs, upper back
- Reduces incidences of backache and headaches
- Calms the nervous system, relieves mild depression
- Helps open sinuses
- Stimulates self expression and will through gentle throat chakra activation
Precautions for Bridge Pose:
If with headache, migraine or recent neck or shoulder injury avoid Bridge Pose until issue is resolved.
Single and double leg stretch using a yoga strap enables some PNF (peripheral nerve facilitation). This means that the stretch can be assisted & the stretch can be resisted. Resisting the strap followed by a short rest then stretch can offer immediate gains in hamstring length. Be careful not over contract the muscle when resisting the strap and to stretch slowly to threshold of shaking or moderate pull. Rest and relax after each stretch; repeat left and right leg 2-3 times before practicing a double leg stretch. Anyone with a recent hamstring tear or knee injury should avoid this exercise until injury has healed.
Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana) is a pose that is fantastic to practice with a Yoga rope.
3 variations: 1a upward leg vertical, 1b upward leg vertical with head to knee & Supta Padangusthasana 2 upward leg out to the side)
Using the Yoga strap allows better control and smooth transition in and out of the Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose. If stiffness and restriction in range of motion of the hips is present the Yoga strap enables the practitioner to practice the pose and make progress. Yoga strap use reduces issues with jagged breathing and struggle at the beginning. Using the Yoga strap for this pose can avoid shoulder strain if hamstrings are exceedingly strong and shortened.
Benefits of Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose:
- Relieves sciatica
- relieves backache and stiffness
- supports recovery from cardiac conditions
- strengthens the hip structures, toning the musculature
- prevents hernia
- reduces pain from menstrual cramps
- tones and strengthens knee joint
- helps relieve osteoarthritic pain in hip and knee
- stretches hamstring, inner thigh muscles and calves
- helps rebalance calf and tendon tension from wearing high heels
Precautions of Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose:
For those with Asthma using the Yoga strap can help to avoid asthma flare up from straining in the pose.
Do not do this pose if you have high blood pressure, have a respiratory infection, headache or migraine or loose bowels.
Single and Double Leg Extension with Yoga strap
Empowerment and comfort is gained by strengthening both a single and double leg in extension with a Yoga strap. These are great exercises to prepare for extension in poses like Locust Pose and Upward Bow Pose. Repeat 2-3 times each single before slipping both feet in to a Yoga strap. Remember to elongate the neck and entire spine while stretching. Those with herniated or prolapsed lumber discs should avoid this exercise until corrected with an effective treatment protocol. Example; Vax-D
Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
Lotus Pose is a Yoga pose for reflection, giving time to appreciate the bliss present after practicing Yoga poses. If Lotus pose is not possible at this time, try simple cross-legged or laying in corpse pose for this purpose.
Yoga props provide help with getting deeper into Yoga postures. Props such as a Yoga strap and block can be a catalyst to consciousness, precision and fun that sometimes may be missed while struggling through or racing to link pose to pose. Breath, slow down and get to know your body and what it really can do and what it loves to do! May all beings be at peace and prosper, Namaste.