Yoga props: Ten tips for yoga teachers

Yoga props are for everyone. Whether your students are new to yoga or have been practising for years, I can guarantee that they will find immense progress from integrating props into their practice. That’s why yoga teachers should learn the many ways to use props in every class they teach.

Yes, yoga props are extremely helpful if you are new to the practice, but there is so much more to gain from using yoga props than you might think.

Here are ten good reasons why yoga teachers should learn to use yoga props:

1.     Increase your flexibility faster: With the support of the correct yoga prop, in the correct position, you will build your flexibility much quicker than you would without props. There’ s a myriad of ways to introduce blocks, blankets, straps, bolsters, chairs (I could go on!) to create deeper flexibility for every student, you just need to know how.

For example, knowing how to guide a student with tight shoulders to use blocks as they attempt Urdhva Dhanurasana or Wheel, can be the difference between them coming into the pose and not – greatly accellerating their progress. For those working on Hanumanasana, which is challenging for most students, the correct use of a bolster and blocks can provide safe support and allow the muscles of the hips and hamstrings to slowly and carefully release.

2.     Correct your own alignment: For so many yoga teachers and students who have a regular home practice, props are the key to teaching you, correcting you and assisting you. The simple use of a wall behind you and a block can improve your own alignment in Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana), when there is nobody there to assist. They challenge you to be more honest and precise in your own yoga practice. Learn how to use props effectively and you will never want to practice without them again.

3.     Recover from injury whilst maintaining your practice: Every student will have an injury at some point during their yoga practice – not necessarily a yoga injury. To continue with a regular practice, yoga props are essential.

A strong knowledge of how props can help students practise safely with shoulder, back or hamstring injuries, for example, will enable your students to attend classes with you and protect them from aggrivating their injury.

4.     Build strength quicker: Yoga props are great tools for creating strength in the body. With the right tricks and techniques, you can build strength throughout the entire body. The simple use of a strap during Chaturanga Dhandasana can assist students to hold the pose, build strength and eventually practice this foundational pose unaided.

5.     Become more creative on the mat: Props are super fun! Want a playful practice? Start using props. For example, you’ll be surprised how deeply you can release into a backbend with the right chair and props!

Yoga Props: a woman practising dancer pose natarajasana with a belt

6.     Finding your balance: Do your students struggle with balancing poses? Yoga props are an essential for find better balance on the mat and there are always new and interesting ways to work with them in balancing poses. For example, strong, sporty students, who may have tight hips or hamstrings, can benefit greatly from a brick in the right position during Ardha Chandrasana/ Half Moon Pose.

7.     Enjoy a deeper relaxation: Sometimes students don’t find relaxation very relaxing! They may have a busy mind or perhaps they are “planners” spending all of relaxation time organising their schedule. Or they might have a sore lower back, which makes lying flat uncomfortable. Add in a few essential props, such as bolsters and blackets, and they will soon switch off.

8.     Offer a restorative class: Knowing how to use props is absolutely essential for teaching restorative yoga workshops, which are one of the most popular workshops. With the right props, restorative yoga allows students to fully recharge, let go and allow their fully-supported body to surrender into every available prop you can offer them. These poses can also have a real impact when skillfully integrated into the start of a class or workshop.

9.     Try more advanced poses: Your students might want to try the more advanced offerings in a yoga pose, but have a fear of falling or being unable to fully hold it. Add in a few props to bridge the gap between levels of ability and your students will be forever grateful. For example, using bricks can help students to lift up into arm balances such as Elephants Trunk (Eka Hasta Bhujasana), while they simultaneously build the arm and core strenght to lift up by themselves.

10.  To allow everyone to enjoy yoga: Many people take yoga up when in their 30s or 40s, when pregnant, to recover from an injury or to enhance their condition for sport. And most people do not have boundless flexibility or full-body strength. Props are essential to support each and every person to comfortably enjoy poses that meet their objectives from their practice so they can access the spectrum of life-changing benefits that yoga can bring.

Make props your best friend and your students will thank you for it.

‘Props Are Your Friend', a workshop designed specifically to help yoga teachers integrate props into their classes, will take place in Durga Yoga on Saturday, May 20th. The workshops is accredited as continue professional development with Yoga Alliance. Click here to find out more »