Perhaps you’ve heard talk of how yoga props can enhance your practice, but aren’t sure how to get started. Antoinette Webb, creator of the prop-centric sequence that follows, understands. “When I first started my yoga practice, it was difficult for me to find someone who looked like me to inspire me, it was also hard finding resources depicting people utilizing yoga props to access these amazing poses, too. And before I started my practice, I didn’t really know yoga props were a thing!”
Over time, Webb learned that yoga props do not make your practice less than, just like not using them doesn’t make your practice better than. These tools are here to support you in your body as well as your practice by offering a loving way to meet your body and your practice honestly and openly. Some days you may feel stiff as a board and may not be able to access a shape or range of motion you did days or weeks before. Maybe on other days you want to take a more restorative approach to your practice; props are great for that!
Follow along as Webb shows you ways to use a basic adjustable yoga strap, a multi loop yoga strap, and some basic yoga blocks to get you started on your own amazing yoga with props journey. Because yes, you can have an entire practice and reach seemingly unattainable poses with multiple props, and it is just as valid as a practice with none of them. But first, let’s chat about these tools and some of their uses.
1. The adjustable yoga strap
This adjustable strap only costs about $8-12. You can easily change the size of the loop or the length of the strap you’re grabbing on to, as you find and create space in your body.
2. The multi loop yoga strap
This green strap, which you’ll see in the sequence, gives you an even amount of loops where you can easily change the level of difficulty, the hold and even track your progress as you begin to move further and further down the strap. It’s also great for working on and understanding spinal stability and mobilization in different poses. This, or similar, props, retail for around $12 on Amazon.
3. Basic yoga blocks
The purple yoga blocks cost under $15. They are great for just starting your journey. They are a bit on the softer side, yet they are strong enough to stand on and sit on. The fact they are sturdy and stackable allows you to bring the ground closer to you. Their dimensions can help you understand what it means to keep parts of your body shoulder or hip width apart.
“Perhaps the thing I love most about these yoga props is that there are beautiful ways to use them together,” says Webb. “You can create space and length in your body while you stabilize yourself by bringing the ground up to where your current practice is and feel that same sense of peace while you unlock new areas of mobility along the way.”
Now let’s get into some amazing and accessible poses that can be obtained and expressed by using a yoga strap and or yoga blocks.
Before beginning your practice, make sure you have your blocks and your yoga strap nearby for you to easily transition them in and out of use.
Sukhasana (Easy Pose)
Begin with sitting on top of your trusty blocks at their lowest height to raise your sitting bones enough to create space in your body for your legs to rest in a comfortable position. Cross your right shin in front of your left shin and rest your shins gently on your feet. To keep a neutral spine, try raising your shoulders up towards your ears, and then releasing them back toward the wall and down you back.
Draw you navel in toward your spine to engage your core; doing so offers additional spinal support to you in this pose. Rest your forearms or hands on top of your knees. Keep your neck long and your chin parallel to the floor. Take 4–10 deep, grounding breaths.
Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Moving from Easy Pose, place your right foot firmly on the ground in front of you with your knee pointed up toward the sky. Gently move your left foot under you to meet your butt, the outside of your right hip, or your yoga blocks beneath you. Your left knee should be pointed fairly forward.
If this is where your body feels most honored, remain in this position as you grab your yoga strap. If you are expressing this first portion further, take your right foot and place it on the floor outside of your left knee, or bring your right foot further back toward your left hip and rest the right side of your ankle and foot down on the ground. This allows you to stack your right knee closely on top of the left one.
Place the yoga strap on top of your right shoulder and allow it to hang across the front and back of your torso, letting it slide down further in the back. On your next inhale, take the yoga strap in your right hand and begin to raise your elbow up toward the sky, moving your right hand toward the back of your neck. This shifts the yoga strap to your midline.
Keep your core activated (navel toward spine, ribs neutral, shoulders rolled back and down) and anchor your hips down as you sit evenly on your blocks.
Take your left hand and place it on the small of your back with your thumb point toward the sky. You should be able to feel around for your yoga strap, and it’s okay if you need to raise your right ribs and move your right arm/hand around to grab the strap with your left hand. Just remember to come back to a neutral spine and rib position after you’ve done this.
If you would like more of a stretch in your chest, arms, and back, slowly move your hands closer to each other by guiding your left hand up and right hand down the strap. This allows space for both forearms to move further behind you, and helps point your right elbow up to the ceiling and your left elbow more down to the floor. Stay here and take 4–10 breaths.
To release, slowly let go of one end of the strap, release your arms, and uncross your legs. Repeat on the other side.
Try this multi-loop yoga strap to help you ease into this pose.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward–Facing Dog Pose)
Come into Tabletop with your hands on your blocks, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and your hips directly over your knees. Tuck your toes under, and pull your navel inward to engage your core.
On your next inhale, wrap your elbows in toward your midline with the inside of your elbows toward the front of the room. Push your hands down into your blocks and lift your knees off the ground. Exhale and lift your hips up and toward the back of the room. You can slightly tuck your tailbone to help release tension in your low back.
Keep your knees bent and heels hovering off the floor at first, then begin straightening your legs and lowering your heels. Lift your inner arches and press down firmly and evenly through your feet. Slightly rotate your thighs inward, as this can even out weight distribution in your legs. Keep your head between your arms and gaze toward your feet.
Continue elongating your legs without locking your knees. If you like, take turns bending each knee for some active movement. Hold for 4–10 breaths.
From Down Dog, take your right foot and place it on the outside of your right hand or right between both yoga blocks. Keep your front knee above your front ankle.
With your core engaged, grab both yoga blocks and place them on their highest height. Rest your hands on top of them. Hold for 4–10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Baddha Virabhadrasana (Humble Warrior Pose)
Hold your strap in one hand while you are still in that lunge position on your left side. Once you have your strap, lower your right heel down to the ground so that your foot is pointing diagonally on your mat. Lift your torso upright again. Angle your left foot slightly outward to open the groin area and protect your knee. Bring both hands back behind you and grab the yoga strap firmly while elongating your arms.
Take a deep breath in to open your chest and expand your lungs. Exhale and bow your torso forward toward your front knee/thigh. Gently raise your hands and strap behind you. Keep your heart open. It’s okay if your hands and strap do not move much, you are still expressing this pose according to your practice and your body. Hold for 4–10 breaths before you release the yoga strap from behind you, place your hands on the ground, and step forward. Repeat on the other side.
Virabhadrasana III (Warrior Pose III)
Start from Humble Warrior Pose on the right side, where your yoga blocks are still on either side of your front foot. Release the yoga strap and set it aside, and place both hands on top of your yoga blocks.
Take a step forward with your left foot to bring both feet together. Move your blocks in front of both feet with shoulders, wrists and blocks stacked in line to pause in a half lift (Ardha Uttanasana) with a long spine. Keep your core engaged.
On your next inhale, shift your weight to your right foot/leg and slowly lift your left leg up and in line with your torso. Point or flex your toes to activate your left quad. Press your right foot down firmly into the ground and push your hands into your blocks. Keep your shoulders away from your ears. Keep a slight bend in both knees. To help you hold stead, gaze between your hands or a spot on the floor.
If you would like to take it up a notch, grab one block between your hands and extend your arms up by your ears. The yoga block will help you activate your arms even more as your energy extends opposite of your lifted leg.
Hold for 4–10 breaths. On an exhale, rest your hands on top of your blocks and bring your leg down. Repeat on the other side.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose)
From Warrior Pose III with your right leg up and extended back, shift your weight in your hands completely to your left hand on your block. Allow your right hand to begin lifting away from your blocks.
Begin rotating your extending right leg so that your right thigh is facing out to the side and your grounded left leg is still pointing forward.
On your next exhale, extend your right arm up toward the sky, opening your chest and torso to the right side. Take 4–10 breaths and keep your core engaged.
On your next exhale, bring your right leg down to meet your left, and rest your right hand back onto your block to repeat on the right side.
Try these yoga blocks to enhance your practice.
Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge)
Begin in Ardha Uttanasana with your hands on your blocks. Step your left foot back, and release your left knee to the mat. With your right knee directly above your ankle and your hands on top of your blocks at any height, slide your left knee back to open your groin and hip area. Keep both hips facing forward. Untuck your left toes and rest the top of your left foot on the ground. Keep the inside of your right foot pressed down.
On your next inhale, bring one yoga block between both hands in front of you, roll your shoulders back and down. Exhale, and lift the block up over your head.
Open up your chest and slowly allow your hands and the block to guide you into a mild back bend. Shift your hips forward slightly, per your comfort.
For an alternative expression, set your yoga block aside and use your yoga strap.
Put your back foot in one loop on one end, and grab the other end of your strap before taking your gaze upward in the back bend. As you curve in the back bend, you can move your hands further down your yoga strap while shifting your hips forward.
Hold for 4–10 breaths. Release your props. Repeat on the other side.
Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Monkey God Pose)
Moving from Low Lunge on your left side, rest your hands on your blocks.
Bring your hips in line with your knee, and tuck your right toes under.
Shift your hips back toward your right foot, slowly straighten the front leg and lift the toes and flex the left foot so that your toes are pointed upward.
As you inhale, lift your chest, roll your shoulders down and back, and draw your belly button in. On your exhale, with a long spine, tuck your tailbone under, hinge at your hips and bend forward over your left knee. Relax your arms and rest your hands gently on top of your blocks for balance. Hold for 4–10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (King Pigeon Pose)
From half splits on your right side, keep your blocks handy. Shift your weight forward as you bring your right foot toward your left knee. Rest your right knee and the outside of your right leg down on the ground while your shin is at a diagonal. Place your blocks either under your right buttocks for support or under your hands for support.
With your hands on the ground or on top of your blocks, slide your back leg behind you while keeping your hips squared. Untuck your toes. Ground the top of your left thigh.
If you like, on your next exhale you can bend your torso forward over your right knee and rest your elbows on top of your blocks.
Options: If you would like more of a back stretch and heart opener, place one loop of your yoga strap on your back foot and grab the opposite end of your strap with both hands. Lift your chest up, roll your shoulders down and back, and move your hands down your strap for a backbend. You can even play around with keeping your back leg straight by pointing your toes or bend your back leg in for a nice additional quad stretch.
Hold for 4–10 breaths. Release your props and come to Tabletop. Repeat on the other side.
Photos by Kwan Gillison of @iM2Photography