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Iyengar Yoga Props and How to Use Them

admin March 28, 2017 0 comments 0

The props described can be bought on-line from our store, Tools for Yoga or by calling us at 973-966-5311.

When you practice with props, use them in a way that is the most suitable for you. Below are some basic guidelines, but the most important point is that you should feel comfortable and relaxed when practicing an asana.

The props below support specific parts of the body and allow asanas to be held without strain and for a longer duration. Beginners, people with stiff joints or muscles, or those who have high blood pressure and those that need support for the head in forward bends, will find these props especially useful.


The belt provides the required tension without strain. The belt can be 6ft or 9ft long and is made of strong woven material and has a buckle on one end. The belt prevents muscle or joint strain, and enhances the stretch. This prop is useful for supta padangusthasana (Supine Big Toe to Hand), urdhva mukha janusirsasana (Upward Facing Head to Knee) and supta baddha konasana (Supine Bound Angle).


Folded blankets are used to support the back, open the chest in reclining asana and pranayama, and support the head and shoulders in inversions, such as salamba sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand). They provide height in seated poses, help keep the torso and spine erect, and aid in correcting poor structural posture.

You can use a rolled blanket to support the neck in reclining asanas and back bends. It helps relieve strain on the chest and on the thighs and ankles in virasana (Hero Pose) and adho mukha virasana (Downward Facing Hero Pose).


Wooden blocks – The support of wooden blocks is used in all types of asana. In sitting and standing poses, they support the legs, knees, or palms, and give height to seated twists. In ujjayi pranayama (Breathing), a block supports the back and helps open the chest. In forward bends, such as uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), blocks provide support to the head and the hands. It can be placed on its short side, on its long side or on its broad side, according to your requirement.

Foam blocks – A foam block is softer than a wooden block and is safer to hold between your feet in inversions.


This prop is used with the trestler. It is also used to give added height in the standing twist, utthita maricyasana (Standing Twist). It helps you to rotate your body more effectively and without strain. The curve is the shape of the arch of Mr. Iyengar’s foot.


This plank supports the palms and/or feet to perform urdhva dhanurasana (Upward Bow) and viparita dandasana (Inverted Stick).


Pairs of ropes are fixed to the wall to learn and improve forward movements, back bending and inversions. One can extend the spine to the maximum level and improve forward extensions. For instructions on using the ropes, see the section on “yoga kurunta” in Yoga: A Gem for Women.


Bolsters support your body while enabling you to relax and stretch effectively without strain. The bolster is stuffed with dense cotton. It should preferably have a removable cotton cover. It is also useful when practicing yoga during pregnancy and menstruation. A new bolster is cylindrical and then flattens into the proper shape with use.

Head Wrap:

A crepe bandage, which is used as a blindfold, helps the eyes to recede into their sockets. This cools the brain and relaxes the facial muscles and the nervous system in savasana (Relaxation) and pranayama (Breathing). The bandage helps you to relax completely by making it easier to turn your thoughts inward.


The props described below support the entire body when you practice the asana, give you the height to coordinate your movements more effectively, and allow better balance in the posture.


This folding metal chair has a customized open back rest which allows you to place your legs through it. This makes for an easier, yet still effective rotation of the torso in seated twists, such as bharadvajasana (Seated Twist). Holding the sides of the backrest steadies you when getting into the posture in salamba sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) and halasana (Plow). It provides support to the torso in back bends, such as viparita dandasana (Inverted Stick). It is also useful when practicing during pregnancy and menstruation. Make sure that the chair is completely stable and rests firmly on the ground.

Wooden Bench (setubandha Bench):

This bench is broad enough to support your torso comfortably. This bench is made of three varieties, broad, narrow and low. They are used for setubandha sarvangasana (Bridge Shoulderstand) and other restorative inversions. The broad benches are used for the cardiac patients or those who suffer from breathlessness, migraine and so forth. Narrow ones are used to flush kidneys and to relieve back problems, while the lower ones are for those who suffer from asthma, bronchitis, weak nerves, permanent fatigue and respiratory problems.

We stock setubandha Benches – high and low, wide and narrow.

Viparita karaniBox (setubandha Bench Extension Box):

This is a semi-circular shaped box. The dorsal lumbar region curves on this box giving full expansion and freedom to the thoracic area. It helps to increase one’s lung capacity. People with brain injury, heaviness in brain, giddiness, pain in eyes and with thyroid problems can use this with comfort to perform the asana, though it is used mostly to perform viparita karani (Great Rejuvenator Pose). Can be used with a wide or narrow setubandha Bench or as a Setubandha Bench extension for chest expansion in salamba setubandha sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Shoulderstand) and other poses.

Simhasana Bench(often erroneously called a Heart Bench):

Originally designed as support for simhasana, this box can be used for setubandha sarvangasana (Bridge Shoulderstand) and lateral twists like maricyasana, bharadvajasana, ardha matsyendrasana, as well as supine poses. The box helps to relax the whole body, calms the brain and soothes the nerves. It removes fatigue. Persons suffering from asthma and choking or breathlessness find immediate relief. Sleep comes with ease.

Four-legged Stool:

This stool, of mid-thigh height, helps in the practice of standing twists, such as utthita maricyasana. The stool allows you to rotate the spine and torso effectively without strain. Ensure that the stool rests firmly on the ground and that it has a top wide enough for your whole foot to rest comfortably. The stool is also used for supported backbends.


This box comes in different heights to use according to the student’s needs to support the legs in Halasana (Plow). It is also used for the prenatal variation of salamba setubandha sarvangasana (Supported Bridge Shoulderstand) to support the legs.

Trestler: (also called a Horse, or Pune Pony)

This is like a big horse stand. It is a great way to support the body as you do the poses. It is ideal for practice during pregnancy. Useful for alignment if you suffer from back pain. The trestler is used to perform standing asanas, backbends, lateral twists and hanging backbends.

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