Using props in yoga practice

Most weeks I teach yoga I have a theme. It could be feet, twists, low back, balancing poses, groins, etc.

Whatever sequence I teach my classes for the week I am also practicing at home.

Many of the places I teach currently don’t have props. Which has been a good challenge for me as a teacher.

Last week I taught what I called props vs. no props.

I travel with a few blocks and straps and remind my students that they are welcome to use the blocks or straps during class. A couple of students have said to me over time that they don’t know how to use the props.

Huh, OK, that hadn’t occurred to me. This prompted a sequence for me to show my students how props can be used in various poses.

I don’t have enough props for everyone nor can I travel with 30 blocks and straps to every class I teach (sometimes I have more than 30 students and I have 22 blocks and 23 straps). But for last week I made it a priority to carry around 22 blocks and 23 straps, which aren’t heavy, just bulky. (I asked my students to bring any blocks … Continue reading

Review Wednesday: Make-A-Bolster

When I travel I usually pack exercise clothes and tennis shoes to make sure I keep up with my regular exercise routine. Sometimes hitting the gym at the hotel is successful and other times not at all.

Once I started my teacher training last year I developed a home yoga practice. The more I did it the easier it got.

I have a travel yoga mat, which makes practicing at a hotel a lot easier and easy to shove into a suitcase or even a carry on. Towels and blankets can help with other needed props.

In one of my last classes of my teacher training we had a class on props. We all presented different ways to use various props, some typical you would find in a studio or possibly a gym. A few presented props that were quite unique.

One of my fellow teachers in training brought in her Make-A-Bolster.

According to the website, Make-A-Bolster is portable, compact, and flat. A blanket from your hotel room or home is folded to approximate the bolster width, tightly rolled incorporating a sleep pillow, placed in the center and zipped to form the round bolster.

What a brilliant idea! I ordered … Continue reading

Using props in yoga

Years ago I was in a yoga class and at the beginning of class the teacher told us what props we needed for class that day.

Someone walked into class after the prop instructions were given. I overheard a fellow student tell the other what props the teacher had requested. She looked at the helpful student and said, I don’t use props.

I almost laughed out loud.

(I typically grab two blocks, a strap and a blanket or two.)

There has been some talk about the use of props as cheating, which I personally find ridiculous. Use of a prop is not cheating.

Last night we discussed props in teacher training.

The assignment for last night was to present a use for a particular prop.

People showed uses with straps, blocks, blankets, sand bags, chairs and a few other non-typcial props, which proved to be fun.

I learned a lot of new uses of various props. Some were eye openers. Others were cool. And some I was aware of but appreciated the reminder.

Props can help you get into a pose you wouldn’t normally be able to or give you a different experience in a pose. Props can help you get … Continue reading

Home Restorative practice

Last weekend I was visiting my family in Tucson, my beloved hometown.

While visiting, my mom and I were able to practice yoga together three mornings. (She was very excited to get three private sessions with me.)

I wrote a practice specific to her requests, a second one we did I had written about before and love and the third practice, my mom wanted to do some Restorative poses.

We were limited on time and props for our Restorative practice. So I made do with what we had and we did three relaxing poses.

(In most Restorative classes, which run for 90 minutes, you only do 4-5 poses.)

Here’s the practice we did, with props we could use that should be in most people’s homes.

Rockin’ customer service

I have been using Camelbak water bottles for a little more than two years. The first one I owned just had a lid. It was a little difficult to drink out of because of the wide mouth. But nonetheless I liked the bottle and how easy it was to take to the gym, when traveling, in my purse, etc. I accidentally left that water bottle at a restaurant in Honolulu. (That water bottle made it to Budapest, Prague, Vienna, Munich and Stuttgart.)

Soon after losing that one I got a second one. This time with a straw and bite valve. I loved it even better than the first one. That one I left at a bar in Last Vegas.

The third one has lasted much longer. I have had it about a year. Recently the bite valve/straw broke. I went to the Camelbak website and found their warranty is 100% guarantee. So I sent an e-mail. A couple of weeks later I got a reply back that they would replace it. And I received it yesterday. Talk about great customer service to a really awesome product.

***

This week I have been pretty tired. Work hasn’t been particularly tough, just … Continue reading

Just breathe …

Yoga class was a treat this morning. Even more than normal.

I took a friend with me.

Our friends Stefanie and Aaron are in town along with their teenage son and 4-year-old son. They are on their way to Disneyland. But stopped in the Bay Area for a couple of days.

Anyway, Stefanie and I went to the 9 a.m. Hatha yoga class with Vickie. Normally I take the 10:45 Vinyasa class with Ashley. But on occasion I take Vickie’s Sunday class.

It was nice to take a friend along with me. And Vickie thought we were related.

Today we focused on breathing, especially in our diaphragm. We focused on opening our sides and breathing through the muscles in our ribs, our intercostal muscles. The breathing exercises we worked on helped us open up our kidneys as well.

I love when I learn something new about my body in yoga class.

Over the years of practicing yoga I have learned many breathing techniques. I learn how to breathe when I am nervous or stressed or scared. And it really helps calm me.

Vickie makes us work hard. But we are always rewarded. She likes to throw in a … Continue reading

GFG! and her yoga props

My usual yoga props for most yoga classes is a blanket, block and strap.

If a teacher requires something else, such as an extra block, a bolster, sand bag, I am more than happy to grab as well.

Oh, and an eye pillow is great for Restorative yoga and savasana. In a pinch, I use my towel or strap.

Today Ashley asked us to grab a blanket, block and strap. That was perfect for me because I already had all the props I needed.

Someone had grabbed extra blocks and handed one to another student yogi. I over heard that yogi say, I don’t like to use props.

I found that to be rather odd.

Some people think using a prop makes you a beginner or that the pose is made easier. Yoga should not be competitive with others or even yourself. And there are times no matter how advanced you are where props are required.

I like to use the blanket to sit on during meditation at the beginning and end of class. Sometimes I use it for padding under my knees. I also use it for a pillow during … Continue reading

Hurrying to relax at yoga class

I literally ran to the yoga studio tonight to make it on time to Baxter’s Hatha class.

Traffic from South City to Emeryville was pretty tame, especially since there is a 49ers game tonight. But from Emeryville a drive in the evenings that normally takes me 15-20 minutes took 40 minutes tonight.

I quickly changed into my yoga clothes once I got home and headed out to Namaste. I ran part of the way and when I arrived I was pretty much out of breath and quite warm.

But I made it on time. And I have to say I am glad I did. I always enjoy Baxter’s classes. I was hoping for more of a Christmas-themed class. There were some Grinch and Christmas Rack references. Eh, good enough.

That class is never too intense. But tonight was even more mellow and we did a lot of work with the bolster. Oh yea, so nice! I love working with the bolster.

It was so worth running and hurrying to class to relax …

You had me at bolster

My regular props for most of my yoga classes are a blanket, strap and block.

(Bolster photo provided by Yoga Bolsters.)

The blanket is great for sitting on to give yourself a little boost. It is also good to use under your knees when doing poses where your knees might be sensitive.

The strap is good for arm stretches where you need a little extra help or your arms don’t quite reach.

There is one arm stretch where one side my arms meet, the other side they don’t.

The block is great for one of my favorite poses, supported bridge. It’s also good for a lot of standing poses, such as triangle, half moon, side angle and so many more.

When I walked into Vinyasa class today, Ashley asked us to get a blanket, block and bolster. In her class we get moving, breathing hard and sweaty. Near the end of class we usually do a restorative pose.

Today we did a meditative practice at the end of class. It was a nice change. I sat up on my bolster, which I don’t usually do.

Continue reading