Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Gearing Up for Restorative Yoga: It’s About the Props

Restorative yoga can help you unload stress and relax both your body and mind on a whole new level. In order to achieve the deepest state of relaxation, though, you’ll need to practice your poses with as little effort or strain as possible. The right props can safely support your body in a variety of postures and help you find the proper alignment.

If you’re relatively new to yoga, or have stuck with the more traditional styles, the use of props may be a little intimidating at first. Just understand how the right props can support your postures and start with the basics, including:

Blocks. Yoga blocks are among the most useful of props and can be positioned behind your hands, heels, or hips to stay in proper form. Blocks also help you hold poses longer and with less effort.

Blankets or Rugs. A good yoga blanket or rug can be used in a variety of ways. Layered on a yoga mat, for example, a blanket can provide even more cushion for seated poses. Blankets can also be folded for additional elevation or support.

Straps. Ideal for beginners, yoga straps can help you hold poses longer, with better form and far less strain.

Bolsters. Available in a variety of shapes and sizes, yoga bolsters---much like a folded blanket---can make your yoga poses easier and much more comfortable.

Eyebags. Okay, so it may not be the most essential prop in your yoga practice, but a peachskin eyebag can go a long way in relieving tension and unwinding after a long day.

But while props are essential in restorative yoga, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to find the support you need. Be creative. Remember, props are simply a means of becoming more comfortable, relaxed, and balanced in your practice. Look around the house and experiment with everyday items like towels, pillows, books, and seat cushions.

Whichever props you buy or find, you’ll appreciate the deep sense of relaxation that only restorative yoga can deliver.