At the beginning of my yoga journey, I struggled with negative self-talk and self-doubt. Living with lupus, a chronic autoimmune illness can sometimes limit your mobility making one feel discouraged in their yoga practice. For me, lupus causes inflammation in my joints and muscle tissue. It was suggested to me, a few years ago, that I try yoga to relieve my chronic joint pain and reduce stress. Looking back, I can honestly say, yoga has been beneficial for me. Most of the poses that stretch the body I found helped release the tension and pain I felt on my muscles and joints. However, quite a few poses added pressure to my already achy joints such as the wrist, the knees, and even the ankles (just to name a few). I cringed when the yoga teacher led us to do downward facing dog, which put so much pressure on my wrist I would drop down to tabletop and waited for the next pose to be called. All the beautiful warrior poses, and lunges also put way too much pressure on the knees. Even in easy seated pose, my hips, knees, and ankles would be in so much pain that I would be discouraged from attending another class.
Fast forward to 2020, I accepted a great opportunity to further my practice. I received a scholarship for Black Wellness to take a Yoga Teacher Training program from My Vinyasa Practice. Through my training is where I found my passion for yoga props. I began to release all self-doubt, stop comparing myself to others, and find ways to alleviate any tensions or limitations I had in my yoga practice. Yoga props allowed me to feel empowered and supported and gave me a way to feel like I can do this yoga thang! Yoga props can be used for beginners and advanced levels to either aid you in reaching your desired goals or expand on newer levels of a pose. Yoga props have not only empowered me, but it has also inspired me to help countless others who have felt discouraged or turned off by the thought of trying yoga. I sometimes think back and wondered why so many yogis never offered or incorporated yoga props in their classes. As a newly certified yoga teacher, I am very mindful of everyone’s different levels in my class and always offer different variations to poses that will support and empower them.
Here are some yoga props that will help you in your journey as it did for me:
One of the most supportive props in yoga! We can use this prop to either bring the floor closer to us or support our bodies for balancing or folding poses. You can even use the blocks in different ways to relieve any tensions in the joints. For instance, next time you go in a downward-facing dog, place blocks under your palms to release the tension on the wrist.
This prop comes in foam and cork, which is much sturdier. If you are looking to feel more secure and safer in your practice, grab a block or two, or four.
This prop helps you reach your fullest potential at any time during your practice. I mean that literally. If you’re like me, who feels like my arms are too short to go into dancer pose or do a seated forward fold and touch my toes, the straps will act as that special friend that meets you halfway and helps you overcome that negative self-talk. Let’s stretch into limitless possibilities!
Yes, a chair! I am not talking about any specialized, expensive chair either. This is one of many items you can use around the house that can double as a yoga prop. We can use a chair to help keep your balance in poses like Warrior III or to support and empower you in poses like Warrior I and II. You may even relieve tension while you are at your desk at work and do some chair yoga moves.
I am in LOVE with the bolster! This prop is the most comfortable, larger version of the yoga block but is likened more to a pillow. You can use it to support you in any pose like dolphin and upward-facing dog; it’s even great in Savasana (the cool-down part of a yoga flow before you return to normal activity)!
Blankets are the best item to use for warmth and comfort during Savasana. Not only that, but it is also a useful, interchangeable yoga prop as well. Try folding one and placing it under your knees in tabletop or any kneeling poses. Or take the folded blanket and place it under your seat if you’re feeling any tension in the hips while in a seated position to elevate and release the compression. The next time you are practicing yoga, grab any comfy blanket that you have available to you and tell me what you think.
What if you do not have any of these items?
If you do not have any of these yoga props within reach, it is OK! You don’t have to run out and spend all your coins buying all the different yoga props on the market. We can use anything around the house! That’s right! You can use your furniture like a dining chair, table, bed, bookcase, you can even lean against the wall. Whatever you have available to you that will keep you centered, anchored, and balanced- USE IT! Go on ahead and grab about 5 books to help you stand in tree pose or half-moon.
If you ever felt like yoga is not for you because you are not flexible, too skinny, too thick, or whatever- take it from me, Yoga Is for Everybody with All Bodies (shapes, sizes, ethnicity, etc.). Sign up for a free class at http://www.recess.tv/@issayogavibe and see how I incorporate yoga props in my sessions.
About the Author…
Taja oSo Fierce, raised in Harlem, is a certified yoga teacher by My Vinyasa Practice and holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Long Island University. Taja is also a serial entrepreneur, curating yoga retreats and various other corporate, philanthropic events and celebrations. She is also a proud mother of 2 handsome sons (a 16-year-old and an 8-year-old) and is also an esteemed member of Delta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. To find out more about her and her offerings, please sign up for her yoga newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/issayogavibesretreats