I have been practicing yoga for over 30 years and props have been my faithful companions all these years.
Why do we use props?
They make the poses more accessible (i.e. bring the floor higher) and they allow us to go into the poses more deeply. Both of these help to reap the benefit of the pose(s).
I encourage my students to use props, it is an art to use them correctly.
What props do I use?
A mat with good grip is important so we can place weight through our hands (dog stretch) and feet ( for standing & balancing poses). A soft, generic exercise mat is not ideal as your ankles won’t feel steady.
You can roll up a yoga mat and lay over it or place the rolled up mat under your thighs when you are relaxing in savasana.
See the photos below for some applications of the various props, sometimes I use more than one.
A foldup chair is very handy.
If someone is not able to practice on the mat (maybe knee or hip issue) poses can be modified for chair.
For standing poses the student can rest one or two hands on the back of the chair or on the seat of the chair.
One can sit on the floor in front of a chair and rest the forehead on the chair (use blankets or towels so your head and neck are comfortable.
Some people use chairs to do shoulder-stand.
Blocks (try to have two or three)
They bring the floor up and it is helpful in standing poses to rest one or two hands on them.
They very good support under the sacrum for supported mini backbend.
You can sit on them and work your hips.
I use three blocks for headstand preparation. The block on the top helps to straighten the spine.
Strap can help you to bend forward more (remember to sit on folded blanket so you move from your hips). The boat pose requires abdominal strength and balance and a strap is useful when learning this pose.
Mostly used for restorative poses, like the laying over it to open the chest.
Enjoy your practice and use your props when you need them!