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Practicing Yin | The Purpose of Props

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Nancy Nelson

Utilizing props in any yoga practice is a wonderful way to enhance your experience on the mat. For a long time, yoga props got a “beginners only” reputation because of their standard ability to help modify the practice. However, yoga props are wonderful for any yogi, regardless of experience – for a variety of intentions.

Let’s discuss…

Examples of props for yin yoga…

Props provide a diverse amount of options to support the practice. Let’s recall the 3 tattvas of yin yoga from Sarah Powers before we dig in.

  1. Come into the pose at an appropriate depth.
  2. Find stillness in the body, breath and mind.
  3. Hold for a time.

In order for us to capture the essence of yin in our time on the mat as listed above, we need our props!

What are your go-to props to use during yin and what’s your favorite way to use them? I feel like the surrender of yin has given me a new appreciation for the props of the practice. Especially when I was pregnant, I needed loads of props to support my changing body. I used that time period to experiment with all the ways the props could assist me in support, accessibility, relaxation, and intensity level. I stuck to that and now grab a whole collection of props to use when I practice yin. So, today I wanted to share some examples of these various means of assistance. I would also love to hear how you use props in the practice. Or your favorite prop-heavy variation.

Let’s look at the ways they can help us. Props can provide support and stability to the practice.

Props provide general support in yin.

When it comes to support, essentially props help us feel a bit more seen and connected. Whether there’s a gap of space that remains between your body and the floor or an area that just feels tender and needs more cushion – support yourself with the use of props!

Props make yoga more accessible.

Some days the body just needs a little more help to get into the pose so to embrace the three tattvas. Usually due to tension and compression, we struggle find the depth and stillness to settle into a pose for a time. Adding props to the equation often will bridge the gap so that the body can really let go – just as it is today.

Props help make deep relaxation possible.

Props can be used to help us feel snug and grounded. When we feel this way, we are able to step into the parasympathetic nervous system more readily so that we can truly benefit from the practice. In yin, we don’t want to avoid relaxation just because it isn’t “restorative yoga”. There can be restorative elements to the practice of yin that will amplify the benefits of playing the edges of our sensations in the poses.

Props can intensify a pose.

Props can lessen the intensity of a pose.

Finally, props can helps us gauge intensity. Need a little more, utilize a prop to take the body further into the pose. Need a little less? Use props to guide the body further out of the pose. Some examples are shown above!

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Nancy Nelson
Nancy Nelson
Nancy is the fearless leader here at Nancy Nelson Yoga! She has been instructing yoga since 2012 and is certified as a Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT 500, YACEP) with Yoga Alliance. She loves guiding yoga classes in all forms – from sweaty vinyasa flows, to slow mindful movement - but her favorite style to practice and teach is yin yoga. She attended a formal 50-hour Yin Yoga training with Bernie Clark and Diana Batts in the fall of 2018 and it truly propelled her into developing her yin focused website, webinars and trainings.

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