Therapeutic Yoga Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 3

The Art of Props

5 min - Tutorial
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In Restorative Yoga, props are designed to hold and support the body to promote deep rest, relaxation, and healing. Cheri walks us through a head-to-toe tutorial on the art of working with props, sharing helpful tips for gathering and creating your own props at home or on the road. You will feel prepared and ready to dive into these therapeutic practices.
What You'll Need: No props needed

About This Video

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Oct 15, 2015
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(waves crashing) Welcome. In this tutorial today, we'll be looking at props for the practice of restorative yoga. Now props become your friends. Props are a wonderful way to support the body in this deep, letting go, this repose that comes only when we're held by these props in gentle, restorative ways. Now some of you may have the ideal props, such as one bolster, three blankets or more, beautiful eye pillow, neck pillow, and blocks and a strap.

These are all yoga props that you can buy, but occasionally you're in a place maybe traveling or maybe some of you at home, you don't have the ideal props. So today, I want to show you how you can use things around you, things in your home, things in your hotel room to create props that can guide you or be supportive for the practice. These are towels and they can be beach towels, like these particular towels are beach towels, but you can also use towels from your bathroom, or you know any towel, larger towel generally works better than the smaller towels. Now, these are just two beach towels, but we're going to make it into sort of a bolster by adding a bed pillow. So, you'll make it nice and long, similar to the bolster, so if you look at tthe width of the bolster and the width of the towels, they're sort of similar.

It's going to be a little wider when the pillow goes over it and supports and gives the cushion that the bolster naturally has. So when you take your towels, you wanna fold them the best that you can, so usually in half and then I like to make either an S shape fold or it really depends on the size of your towel, but blanket or a folding origami with your towels with your blankets is important. Making sure like this, that there's no funny edges or something tucked under because you will be lying on top of these props, and you will feel it if they're not folded well or they're not smooth. So just take your hands and smooth it out. And then using a longer pillow if you have one is great and that goes right on top.

And then at home sometimes or when I'm traveling and in a hotel room, I'll fold the back of the blanket I have in my hotel room if it's too large or a towel under, and this creates a little extra support for your head. Let's say your hips are here, your head is here. You can just roll that under to create more support. Or, you can add an additional pillow for your head support, so your spine would be here, your head here, hips here. Now, one of the things that can be really nice too is if you doing let's say, Supta Baddha Konasana, resting butterfly pose with the knees open, is to use throw pillows, and quite often there's throw pillows you can grab from your couch at home or if you're traveling they often have them decorating the bed in the room.

So, putting your pillows down to support your legs. And so you're sitting here, these are holding your knees or legs. Now if you were using a strap for something, you could take your strap and this one is just a bathrobe tie. Going around the hips, around the feet, and you would tie it or in let's say a supported bridge pose, it would go around the thighs, and you would tie it, so that comes in handy. And then you can also use a wash cloth over your eyes when you go into your relaxing poses, your restorative poses, or a scarf is nice or a sleeve of a shirt, or even a sock can be used to go over your eyes.

This not only helps to block out the light, it's deeply relaxing, so it's wonderful to give your eyes a rest. They work hard all day. I'm gonna put these back here now. And I wanna talk a little bit about using props and how valuable they are for this practice. So if you've practiced yoga, you know that it's wonderful to practice on the earth in a beautiful space, and you might not need the use of props, but you'll find that when you are held, when the bolster's underneath you, it's creating a wonderful benefit, an opening in the chest, an opening in the heart center, and often too, because we sit so much at computers, we sit so much doing the various things we do throughout the day, this whole area gets very tight and congested.

So, the bolster, the blankets, they hold you so that you can stay for longer periods of time. Sometimes we'll hold poses 10, 15, 20 minutes to receive additional benefits: the opening, lengthening of connective tissue, the deep release of physical tension, holding patterns in the body. It's all so valuable to be able to experience this and we really experience it with the support of our friends, our yoga props. I also want to talk a little bit about sacred space. So when you go to choose the place that you're going to practice, first think of what you need.

So, perhaps you're not feeling well. You're very ill or you're recovering from something. You might need to practice in bed and just bring your props and your pillows into bed. You may not be able to do every pose that I'm teaching you in the sequence, but you may be able to modify and do some things in bed and certainly breathe with us and meditate with us. If you're feeling better and you can get to the floor, you can bring your props down, so you'll gather what you need and before each segment, there's a mentioning of the props that you'll need, so you'll gather the props together that you have and each pose will be bringing them into certain positions, so you'll watch for that positioning.

And then you'll also want to really make sure that you're comfortable in each pose. If anything doesn't feel well to get creative. I call it prop problem solving. You wanna find that place where it feels really delicious and you can deeply relax into the pose. I find carpet is really nice, or when I'm traveling I may put a blanket down and then practice over the blanket.

But, creating these spaces that you can really go deep, you know, taking your watch off, turning your phone off, closing the door, letting people know if you're at home that this is your practice time, so you can really focus on the deep healing that these practices offer you. So, I look forward to sharing them with you and remember you can always refer back to this tutorial if you need more information about how to create your own props. Thank you. Namaste.


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