The benefits of yoga are more than meet the eye. Ever-evolving, the ancient practice is right on time for those seeking physical strength and flexibility, mental quietude and more efficient digestion, circulation and respiration. Blind to age and so-called ability, yoga can be practiced anytime, anywhere, by anyone.
A truly adaptable workout, every pose can be modified to meet you where you are. Many studios are stocked with a nice selection of props. Don’t hesitate to grab a block, strap, bolster or blanket before class to get the most out of your practice. If a home practice is more your style, some common household items will do the trick.
Below are three common yoga poses and the props to make them accessible and safe.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold)
For tight hamstrings, practice this gentle inversion with a deep bend in the knees and fingers resting on a yoga block. Let the head hang and surrender to gravity a little more with each long exhale. After several deep breaths, slowly roll up to standing.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold)
Even the stiffest yogi can reap the multiple benefits of this brain-calming spine stretch. Blankets can support the hips and knees. With consistent use, a strap around the balls of the feet can gradually increase flexibility. For a more restorative option, rest head and arms on the seat of a chair. Breathe peacefully in this posture for up to five minutes before gently returning to a comfortable seat.
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
When wrists scream at the mere suggestion of bearing weight, try stabilizing with yoga blocks. Set two blocks on their broadest side lengthwise, parallel and shoulder-width apart a couple inches in front of the shoulders. From a table-top position, place hands on blocks, curl toes under and push up into an inverted V. By shifting weight away from hands, blocks allow more openness in the upper back, while saving sensitive wrists.