Updated: Nov 18
To get the most out of your yoga practice it’s helpful to learn how to adapt a pose to suit your body, rather than forcing your body into a pose when it might not be appropriate. By tuning into how your body feels, and knowing how and when to modify or use props, you will be able to get the most benefits from yoga.
Modify poses in a way that suits your body
One of the easiest ways to adapt a yoga pose when it feels uncomfortable is to modify the pose with your body. For example, if you are noticing that forward bends feel tight and straining on your hamstrings, bend your knees a little. Try doing this in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) and the Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana).
Also, if the full expression of a pose is not feeling possible for you, just go as far as does feel ok and stay there. This way you are teaching your body how do the fundamentals of the pose without forcing your body into a pose that it isn’t comfortable in. You can try in the Butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana) to first find your set up in the pose sitting upright and then only choosing to fold forward if that movement feels available to your body.
Props can be helpful to get the maximum benefits from a pose
Props can be helpful for yoga practitioners of all levels, not just beginners. They can be useful to get the maximum benefits from a pose, without pushing your body into a pose that it isn’t ready for.
A yoga block is one of the most used props, and for good reason. Blocks are relatively cheap to buy and in case you don’t have one can be substituted by a thick book. A block can be handy to use to sit on when sitting crossed legged or in Thunderbolt pose (Vajrasana). By elevating the hips, it helps you to sit more comfortably when the hips are tight. Also, if you have tightness in the hamstrings a block can be used place under the bottom hand when in standing poses while still working on lengthening the legs. This can be helpful to try in poses like Triangle pose (Trikonasana) and Half-moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana).
Another useful prop to use is a folded blanket or towel. This can give extra comfort in poses like Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) or a small support under the hips in poses like Pigeon Pose (Ardha Kapotasana). As well as being useful to keep your body temperature warm when resting in Corpse pose (Savasana).