Props can be used in yoga to help the body stretch, strengthen, balance, relax or improve body alignment. They can help students experience the pose more profoundly and safely. Students often ask me what is the difference between yin and restorative poses. In yin, we hold poses for a shorter amount of time (5-10 minutes) compared to restorative poses which can be held from 5-20 minutes. In yin poses, we are looking for a stretch in the joints and ligaments (connective tissues), while still relaxing the muscles in the body. However, in restorative poses we are looking for a more gentle opening of the body rather than a deep stretch in the connective tissues or muscles. In restorative poses, we also want to support the body in a way that the muscles in the body completely relax, and feel fully supported by the use of props. When the body is fully supported, we can let go.
In restorative poses, we are looking to calm our nervous system, ease tension in the body, and calm the mind. Our aim is to be comfortable in the pose so we can stay for a longer length of time. In both styles of yoga we can make use of props to enhance the stretch, or relax the body. In the yin version of childspose (a), we can support the knees and ankles with blankets, and also use sandbags on the lower back to ground the body and deepen the stretch along the spine. A block could also be used to support the head if the forehead does not touch the mat. Setting up for child’s pose in a restorative practice (b) takes more time, but the student also stays in the pose for a longer period. It might not be possible to have access to all of these props, but there are key areas to support the body so that we can find ease in the pose. Finding comfort is essential so that the body can feel relaxed and the muscles can let go. In this restorative version, blankets are used to support the knees and ankles, props are used to place the body in angles so that the body can relax. A rolled up blanket tucked in at the waist can be used to help the back to round. These props can be modified to suit the student in this pose.
Deepen your yoga practice and learn ways to use props in various yin and restorative poses on March 5th, at Prana Shanti Yoga Studio. Anne will guide you through a series of yin and restorative poses, with various uses of props. By using props, we can support the body so that it can extend beyond habitual limitations, or feel supported so that it can completely relax and let go.
Learn more with Anne. She is hosting a Restorative Yoga Training at PranaShanti starting on May 6, 2016.
Follow Anne’s blog posts at: http://www.annewandayoga.ca/blog.html