YOGA CAN BE MADE COMFORTABLE WITH PROPS-
Authors – Prof. Dr. R. R. Deshpande ( M.D) ,
Dr. Shirish Deshpande ( BAMS, DYA.)
The world of Yoga has undergone drastic transformation, from the time it has been introduced to the common man. New Yoga-people have brought innovative approaches to Yoga and developed need based new products. For improving flexibility systematically, new approaches are coming forward.
Many names are given to this method of ‘Yoga with support’. Some named it as “Restorative Yoga”, some call it as “Therapeutic Yoga” & some call it “Modified Yoga”. But every Yoga teacher’s aim is ‘to simplify Yoga with supports (props). Here we are getting same expected results with more ease. Also we can stuck up to original principles of Yoga.
Props [ Property as a support] -
First of all, it's not a bad idea to familiarize oneself with these props.
1) Yoga mats
2) Yoga blankets
3) Yoga straps/ belts
4) Yoga blocks
5) Yoga bolsters/ pillows
6) Yoga ropes
7) Yoga back-bending benches
To elaborate the specific uses of these props , some Yoga-examples are given below .
1) Mats -
It is a soft rubber or cotton carpet spread on the ground. Although it may be a normal spread-sheet-mattress, it gives an ignition for doing a Yoga practice. For any type of sitting, it helps to soften the pricking-sitting-bones. For laying poses it helps to relax the back or abdomen. As it is spongy & soft, it also works as shock absorber for standing and inverted poses. The cost of mat ranges from Indian rupees 500 to 1200.
2) Yoga Blankets -
Thick , foldable , soft and comfortable big sheet-like cotton blankets are used for supporting sitting bones (ischial tuberosity) in sitting poses. Also it can be rolled to have a shape of cervical pillow(neck support) in laying down pose. This blanket roll especially helps to keep the natural curve of cervical area of spine.
The Yoga-saadhakaas(Yoga students) who are sensitive to cold atmosphere, they can use the blanket to cover themselves in Final Relaxing Pose Shavasana. The prize of such blanket is Indian rupees 700 to 900.
3) Yoga straps (belts) -
It is a long cotton strap having a metal buckle to lock.
The muscles related to Shoulder girdle are generally contracted because they are misused or not used. Shoulder girdle means the area of upper chest + area of upper back + area of arms which are connected together near shoulder joint. Commonly culprit muscles are Trapezius(covering almost all upper back), Pectoralis ( Upper chest to shoulder joint like both side pocket area of shirt) , Levator Scapulae ( Shoulder blades elevators) . These muscles are in chronic contraction due to adapted bad poses like PC pose (computer), driving bad pose and one sided shoulder bags etc. Yoga exercises and movements are there to relax & stretch these muscles. But naturally there is a limitation to stretch these muscles in Yoga movements. For example, for a person having stiff shoulders, there is a limitation to do retro-version ( moving shoulders backwards and depressing shoulder blades down). This retroversion can relive the above said muscles (see fig No.1 & 2). A perfect belt is chosen and tied in a way to help the inner muscle move in a physiological way. This belt helps to relax the unwanted contraction of muscles like Levator Scapulae. Repeated movements of muscles by such belt opens up the ‘Space’ in muscular territory & in turn re-arranges the muscles. The pain, discomfort and stiffness is relived by the Re-arrangement of Space element. The cost of Yoga belts is from Indian rupees 100 to 700.
4) Yoga blocks -(Bricks)
Sitting in cross legs or folded legs position (Sukhasana) is considered as a important criteria for pose of prayer , meditation and breathing exercises. Rectangular bricks of wooden material or stiff-fibre material, are Yoga blocks. First and foremost use of these blocks is to sit on it. Sitting bones (ischial tuberosity) are supported by these bricks and the knee part of crossed legs are kept on ground. From the very first session of any Yoga method, the instructor always tells to sit straight. It is seen that, after some minutes, due to discomfort or lack of practice, gradually the shoulders and back sinks down. This sitting brick automatically helps a lot for keeping the Spine in erect position for longer time (see figure no. 4 & 5).
In various standing / bending postures, such bricks are used to balance the pose. Prize of Yoga block is from Indian rupees 400 to 800.
5) Yoga bolsters / pillows -
A sinking down and dropped-shoulder pose reduces the Space in chest cavity. Because of reduced Space, shallow breathing happens. If at all told to do deep breathing, such person can not use the full space of chest due to adapted & contracted chest territory.
To increase lung capacity, it is necessary to expand the chest. To expand chest, the bolster (rounded pillow) plays very important role. For example, a rounded pillow is kept below upper back and shoulders are turned backwards. This pose is a modified classical pose called as Supta-Veeraasan – sleeping warrior( see fig. No.6). Pillow helps to reduce outer pressure on chest. The prize of such pillows is Indian rupees 400 to 800.
6) Yoga ropes -
Any person who can not touch the fingers to toes, that person need some strap or a rope to fill the distance. In such case, a rope plays very good role. A rope which is connected to form a loop , can be used by hooking it in arch of the foot. This laying down pose is classically known as Supta-Padaangushtha-asana i.e. toe-to-head pose (see Fig. No. 6). Because of stiff Hamstrings(back of thigh) and Lumbar i.e. lower back muscles (e.g. Quadratus lumborum), the person can not go beyond a limit of stretching. To overcome the general limitation of Hamstrings and Lumbar musculature, a Rope is a blessing. The hamstrings and lower back muscles are attached to pelvic bone . Once the Space in thigh and back is re-arranged by stretching these muscles; pain, stiffness & discomfort considerably reduces. The cost of Yoga ropes varies from Indian rupees 350 to 650.
7) Yoga back-bending benches -
Viparita Danda asana ( used in Heart problems & in Asthmatic patients) is popular back bend in Yoga. It is a uniform curve of whole body. While performing, there may be unwanted pressures and strains on spine. To avoid unwanted adverse effects and to get the maximum benefits, a wooden curved support is used (Fig. No. 7). Main purpose of this back bending is expansion Of Chest. Chest expansion gives better breathing, correct alignment of spine curvatures, abdominal and side chest stretching. Proper muscles stretching leads to pooling of blood to the territory. In short it increases Space in trunk (torso), where almost all vital organs are situated. If there is enough Space for functioning, then the organs can give their maximum results. This is easily achieved by using such wooden bench support. Such wooden benches can also be used to get experience of inversions like Sarvang-asana i.e. Shoulder stand (see fig. No. 8). Such wooden back-bender bench costs up to Indian rupees 12500.
Logic of Yoga with props -
Right and left sides of the body are always unequal in almost every individual. To achieve physical equilibrium the bricks, belts and ropes are key tools in practice. Physical discomfort distracts mind. Props are used to minimise discomfort. By increasing comfort level, the equilibrium is achieved easily. Physical effortless equilibrium avoids disturbance in concentration of mind.
In the long run, after practicing Yoga with props, the body gets enough training; by which after couple of years these postures can be performed without even using props.
In the society, some people feel that Yoga with prop is not good. But to use a prop, ‘acceptance level’ of a person must be very high. Once person accepts that, there is a limitation to flexibility of his/her body and use of prop is must, then the ‘Ego’ melts. This ‘surrendering’ is vital aim amongst many objectives of Yoga.
In the scripts, it is explained as , first take efforts to practice and then achieve stage of effortless practice. To minimise the efforts , these props play a key role.
Fortunately, now we all have a chance to increase flexibility and enjoy the benefits of supported Yoga-Sadhanaa.
So my dear friends, why to waste time ! Start learning this Yoga with props which is scientifically proven & based on total logic. And make your Yoga session as well as life comfortable.
For consultation , learning about Yoga with props or purchasing props, please you may contact –
1) Prof Dr.R.R.Deshpande- Director - IAPY
- Institute of Ayurveda Panchakarma & Yoga, Pune, India
Phone - +91-9226810630
2) Dr. Shirish Deshpande (Ayurved & Yoga consultant)
Mobile number : +91-9970071195
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org