Unlike “Yang” forms of yoga such as Vinyasa, a Yin yoga class might include a menagerie of yoga props to assist the body in melting into Yin postures. Yin yoga props help to achieve the body in getting into that sweet spot of intense stretching without the straining. A Yin yoga class will inevitably incorporate a number of props into the practice. Let's look at the various ways that Yin yoga uses props.
One of the key points of Yin yoga is to find that edge where the body is relaxed but still working, and linger there.
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The purpose of yoga props in Yin yoga
It is suggested to be about 80% deep into a posture in Yin yoga to really work into the facia and tissues without putting too much strain on them to cause injury, of course.
Many newcomers to the Yin practice might think that because Yin yoga is not a flowing style of yoga it's more meditative. And while any style of yoga could be linked to meditation or even considered moving meditation, Yin yoga can actually be quite challenging.
Holding yoga poses for several minutes can really challenge the mind and the body, and that's where props come in! Props can alleviate the challenge for the body, but maybe not the mind!
The Yin Yoga website has a great informational section that elaborates on the proper uses of yoga props in Yin yoga, where they also describe their purposes.
- Some of the purposes props can have in a Yin yoga practice include:
- Increase stress in desired areas
- Decrease stress in desired areas
- To create length and space
- To make certain postures accessible
- To provide support: when the bones feel supported the muscles can release
How to use props in Yin yoga & Yin yoga props list
Blankets can be used to add warmth and comfort. Blankets can go under the knees or add extra padding anywhere that’s needed or even be folded up in a cylinder-like shape to be used similarly to the way a bolster would be used.
In Yin, yoga blocks can be used as support to help the muscles release tension to get deeper into a posture, like a seated forward fold with blocks under the knees.
Bolsters can be used in a variety of ways to support the bones such as placing a bolster under the chest in a wide-legged straddle or placing the leg over a bolster in a lying supine twist position where 1 leg is extended on top of the bolster pillow and crossing over the body.
Cushions can be used to help relax into half pigeon pose by placing the cushion out in front, under the chest to fold down over.
Sandbags can be used to add weight, an example of this could be adding a sandbag onto each thigh in butterfly pose to assist in the opening of the hips.
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How to use yoga props – beyond Yin yoga
You can get quite creative with yoga props and in fact, you can substitute many regular household items for a yoga prop, too.
Yoga blocks can be used to increase the stress in upward facing dog by placing the blocks under the hands to create more space between the hips and the floor. Blocks can also be used in assisting with wheel pose by putting them under the hands and making the floor closer.
A bolster can be placed under the frontal hip point area to assist in bow pose and can also be very useful in pigeon pose to relieve pressure from the bent leg hip.
Yoga wedges are ideal for those who slip, even if they have a non-slip mat. There will be no hand slippage on a cork wedge!
A yoga wheel is also very versatile and can be used under the thoracic spine area or, if you’re feeling daring you can balance on top of a yoga wheel in a squat position with the feet facing outwards.
Takeaway on Yin yoga props
For any of the props mentioned above or seen in the image, visit Hugger Mugger. I adore this eco-friendly, environmentally-conscious brand. And for more inspiration for your Yin life, take a look at our post about how to create a Zen yoga space. Or to learn more about the basics of Yin yoga, we have several articles that dive into various aspects of the Yin practice.
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