Yoga Props - Making It Easier by river111

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   Yoga Props - Making It Easier
If you've ever been fortunate enough to have
spent some time in a traditional village
anywhere in Asia, you'll have marveled at
the natural flexibility and coordination of
the villagers. They sit in the half-lotus or
lotus position as naturally as we Westerners
sit in a chair and squat flat-footed and
chat together for hours without the
slightest discomfort. Indian yogis begin
their practice of hatha yoga with this kind
of natural flexibility, but we need to train
ourselves. The best of the gurus who brought
hatha yoga to the West understood this and
helped their students develop blocks and
other props to assist them in their
practice.
Yoga blocks and yoga straps are the two most
common and useful yoga props. There are many
others. Some, like the yoga ball, have their
roots in Western fitness regimes, but have
proven themselves to be valuable aids in the
practice of yoga. Like the guru who was
perceptive enough to notice a non-
traditional need in his students and
ingenious enough to find a solution in a
simple brick, Western yogis have found new
yoga props that enhance the practice of yoga
while depriving it of nothing.
The Yoga Block
The yoga block is perhaps the most versatile
yoga prop. Usually made of stiff foam or
cork, the yoga block resembles a brick.
Rumor has it that this is because when a
hatha yoga guru saw his students struggling
with an asana, he scanned the immediate area
and found some cast off bricks. These common
bricks became the first yoga props in the
West.
With three surfaces of different heights to
work with, the yoga block is versatile as
well as useful. The Half Moon pose (Ardha
Chandrasana) is a standing pose that
requires you to extend one leg parallel to
the floor while balancing on the opposite
arm. Executed properly, your entire body
will be parallel with the floor while your
supporting leg will stand straight and
perpendicular. The Half Moon pose can be
difficult or impossible without the aid of a
yoga block, but with a block, it becomes
"doable."
The Hero Pose (Virasana) comes naturally to
indigenous peoples everywhere, but is
deceptively difficult for Westerners and can
cause injury if it's not eased into
gradually. Virasana is a seated pose.
Ideally, your buttocks will rest flat on the
floor while you sit in a kneeling position
with a straight back. Using a block for your
buttocks not only makes it possible to sit
comfortably with a straight back in the Hero
Pose, it protects your knees from potential
damage.
The Yoga Strap
Another extremely useful yoga prop is the
simple yoga strap. There are many varieties
available, but they all serve the same
purpose. Basically, yoga straps (sometimes
also called yoga belts) bridge the gap
between your hands and your feet and allow
you to do yoga asanas that might otherwise
be difficult or impossible.
Both the Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
and the Seated Forward Bend
(Paschimottanasana) require grasping the
toes while keeping the legs straight. The
benefits of gently stretching the spine and
the leg muscles in this way are so great
that the inability to reach that far without
the risk of injury should never be an
obstacle to doing these yoga postures
regularly. With the aid of a yoga strap,
anyone can do them and benefit from them.
If you feel held back in your practice
because you can't do yoga like the masters
overnight, don't worry, nobody can! Go
online and learn about yoga props, find the
ones that you need and keep practicing. Even
if you never master the one finger hand
stand (don't panic - there's no such
thing!), if you do yoga regularly, it will
do you a world of good.

								
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