Q. How do I know I "need" to use a yoga prop?
A. Look at props as tools to use and not as training wheels. Many students say, "Oh, I don't need a block," when I offer them a tool of empowerment (i.e. a block or a strap). And this is not the point. While a student may not "need" a block, a strap, or a bolster, one of these tools might give that student access to more stability, alignment, or freedom in a pose than he or she ever thought possible.
Q. Which props are your favorites, and why?
A. One of my favorite ways to use a block is for alignment, drawing into the midline and engaging the thighs. If students have lazy legs in a Standing Forward Bend, the lower back will tend to take the hit. A block can bring students into engagement of the legs and alignment very quickly, empowering them in that very moment and empowering their practice as a whole.
A strap is also an excellent tool for students to gain access to a pose by essentially extending the reach of the arms in poses such as Seated Forward Bend or Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose. Instead of hunching forward and disintegrating the spine, a strap allows for integration and connection, allowing the student to bring in better alignment and access poses that would otherwise not be possible.
A blanket can be used to support a student in holding a pose for extended periods of time, (i.e. a blanket draped over a block would make Seated Meditation a lot more comfortable and accessible to more ages, levels, and ranges of flexibility). A yoga blanket can also be used to release pressure in areas that can be uncomfortable and even susceptible to injury, like the cervical spine (neck) in Shoulderstand. Stacking a blanket or two under the shoulders with the head on the floor can work wonders.
Bethany Lyons is a powerful leader, creator, community builder and co-founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga, Manhattan's only Baptiste-style yoga studio. Bethany is a classically trained ballet dancer, Certified Baptiste Yoga Teacher and Master Instructor at SoulCycle. In co-founding Lyons Den Power Yoga, Bethany seeks to showcase the endless possibilities all around us and to show up in a big way for her students and in her life.