Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Iyengar yoga, known for its many props, has long employed a wooden dowel to support and promote proper alignment in inversions. We spotted an new spin of the traditional tool in the YJ LIVE! marketplace in San Francisco. Enter, Krixstix—a versatile, newyoga gadget to refine alignment, deepen asanas, and therapeutically roll fascia. After one try, we were hooked.
The Backstory: Krikstix
In one of Stacey Bell’s Iyengar yoga classes, her teacher introduced her to wooden dowels with makeshift padding to support her back, neck, and shoulders to properly lift the trapezius muscles in Headstand. As the class tried the dowels first in Dolphin Pose, she felt an immediate release of tension in her trapezius, decompression in the cervical spine, and relief from TMJ she had been experiencing.
Sold, she made her own makeshift set and introduced the wooden dowels to her private yoga clients and even non-yogis. Her secret to nixing neck pain spread, and she acquired a business partner. Thus, Krikstix was born.
The versatile prop can be converted to one or two pieces and used not only to refine alignment in inversions but also to provide feedback for the body to deepen into asana. And bonus, it also works like a foam roller to therapeutically release fascia. Check out all it can do.
Refine Alignment in Inversions: Step 1
Lean Krikstix against the wall with its feet about 18 inches away from the baseboard. Come into a tabletop position on hands and knees and place your head between the sticks.
Also see the video Work It: Neck + Shoulder Release
Refine Alignment in Inversions: Step 2
Move the the legs of Krikstix toward your neck, along your shoulders until the padding rests on the soft tissue about an inch away from the “corner” of the neck and shoulder. Lean forward into the padding and simultaneously lower the torso slightly to catch the traps and lift them up.
See also Nix Neck Pain in Camel Pose
Refine Alignment in Inversions: Step 3
Maintaining the alignment of steps 1 and 2, rest your weight gently forward into the sticks. Then push back to lift your hips up using core and leg strength and release your head down. Lift your heels to elevate the pelvis for deeper sensation. Place hands either by the feet of Krikstix or further back (as shown). Relax and breathe into the support of the prop.
• Relieves tension in the commonly tight area of the neck and shoulders
• Creates a gentle gravitational traction for the neck
• Improves posture by rolling the trapezium back, aligning head on top of the spine
• Calms the mind and sends blood flow to the brain
• Opens the hamstrings and calf muscles
Refine Alignment in Inversions: Step 4
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)
With Krikstix leaning on a wall, feet 12–18 inches away from the baseboard, place your head between the sticks and prepare to kick up into Handstand. Keep your shoulders from touching the padding so you have room to land on the stix. Once you kick up, let the stix catch you at the back of the shoulders and help you balance. Press through the hands and reach up through the feet.
• Creates sensation of a middle-of-room Handstand
• Enables practitioner to hold pose longer and refine alignment
• Helps practitioner establish awareness of midline verticality
• Support at the shoulders makes it easier to stretch up through the legs and lengthen the back body
• Support helps practitioner locate and activate core muscles to stabilize the shape
See also How to Prep to Balance in Handstand
Deepen Poses: High Lunge
Convert the prop into one stick and place it in front of your mat. Come into Low Lunge with your back heel on a wall. Pick up the stick and place it in the curves between your thumb and index finger. As you press your heel into the wall, extend your arms forward, then up. Maintain the right angle of front leg. Hug your legs to the midline and descend your pelvis. As you lower the base, extend up through the side ribcage and fingertips.
• Stick organizes arms so they work as a unit
• Feedback of stick creates a relationship between upper and lower body—as you extend up through fingertips hips can descend lower. As hips descend, there is more space to move up.
• Creates stability in the arms of adding a backbend through the upper spine
Deepen Poses: Bow Pose (Dhanurasana)
Lie on your belly with your prop beside you. Bend your knees and place the padded section on the front of your feet. Hold it in place with your hands. Create length in the lumbar region by drawing your tailbone toward your pubic bone; then leverage feet against stick to lift the chest and knees up into full Bow Pose.
• Prop creates leverage to go deeper into the pose
• Activates the use of the quadriceps so there’s less compression in the lumbar spine
• Leverage creates deeper opening through the arms and chest
Deepen Poses: Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
From Staff Pose, place the prop in the curve of your thumb and index finger, resting it on your lap. Root the top thighs down, reach your arms forward and up to establish length in the side body and extension of your arms. Fold forward and place the padding of the stick at the balls of the feet. Leverage the prop against your feet, as you press into it to extend your spine and fold deeper.
• Provides feedback into hands when reaching the arms up so spinal extension is greater for forward fold
• Stick creates leverage for a deeper forward fold
• Provides feedback for feet to press big toe mound forward—this action creates clarity in the feet, which then activates the whole inner leg
See more Forward Bends
About Stacey Bell
Stacey Bell has over 20 years experience in the wellness field, working with individuals and groups to attain optimal health and balance through the practice of yoga. She is the inventor and co-owner of Krikstix and owner of Yogabell Wellness.
Want to try Krikstix? Email Stacey at firstname.lastname@example.org, mention you’re a YJ reader, and get the YJ Exclusive price $99 (regularly $150)
FOR MORE AT THE YJ LIVE! MARKETPLACE FINDS, REGISTER FOR THE YOGA JOURNAL EVENT IN NYC, APRIL 23-27