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Iyengar yoga emphasizes proper alignment to get the maximum benefit from each pose. Not everyone, not even experienced yoga students, can achieve the correct alignment on his or her own. Iyengar yoga classes often use some type of props to help you get the right alignment. These props include:
-Yoga blocks (a typical yoga block is 9” x 6” x 4”), it can be used in a variety of poses. Foam blocks, such as such as those available form Gaiam, are lightweight, yet sturdy, and it is especially helpful in triangle pose (trikonasana). Here's how to use it to improve your triangle:
-Place the block on your mat next to your front foot.
-As you tilt forward, place your front hand on the block rather than on your shin or the floor. The block provides stability and helps you achieve a deeper twist without compromising the alignment of your shoulders or the opening of your chest.
-Yoga straps can help you achieve a deeper stretch with correct alignment in standing poses. If you have tight hips and hamstrings, you may struggle with extended hand-to-big-toe pose (utthita hasta padangustasana). If so, try wrapping a yoga strap around the ball of the foot on your extended leg, then hold onto the strap as you bend forward from your hips. A typical strap yoga strap is 6 feet long. The Gaiam strap features an easy-release looped buckle, and it's made from 100% organic cotton.
Iyengar yoga also can help you recover from an injury or medical procedure. The use of props makes Iyengar yoga for rehab adaptable to different stages of your recovery. And if you practice at home with an Iyengar yoga DVD you can move at your own pace and do as much or as little as you want.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|