Every single body is different, and your yoga practice can look completely different from the person on the mat next to you. Modifications that work for you are key to helping support your yoga practice, and for giving your body what it needs for that day. Here are some tips on how to modify your yoga practice.
Props are KEY in modifying any yoga practice. You should have props, even if you don’t think you’ll need them. Basic props include blocks, a yoga strap, a blanket to cushion your knees, and a bolster. You don’t need to have all of these on hand. In a pinch, a stack of thick books can stand in for blocks, you can use a tie from a bathrobe or a long t-shirt for a strap, a blanket can be a folded towel, and you can use a thick cushion from the couch for a bolster.
- Blocks are great for bringing the floor up to meet you. If you’re working on Crow Pose, you can place your feet on the blocks to help you get into the pose. If you’re in a Wide Legged Forward Fold, blocks can be a safe place to rest your hands. The uses for blocks are endless. If you’re having some difficulty with a pose, try adding blocks and see what happens!
- A yoga strap can be such a great tool to help with opening. If you’ve been wanting to work on binds, a strap is your best friend.
- Your yoga mat has cushion, but an extra blanket or towel can offer a little more softness for your knees. As a bonus, you can lay it over you in Savasana for an extra cozy vibe.
- A bolster is great as a pillow for your head, or under your knees during Savasana. If you’re doing a Restorative class, bolsters are a must.
If you are thinking about practicing yoga while pregnant, you should first consult your doctor and decide if it will be safe for you. There are a few modifications that you should keep in mind if you decide to practice while pregnant: no twisting poses, and no poses that put pressure on your belly. You might want to consult a yoga teacher certified in prenatal yoga to help modify your practice to suit your needs.
Three common poses with modifications:
There are a million modifications under the sun, but here are three common poses with modifications.
- Downward Dog: Can’t get your heels on the ground for Downward Dog? Try placing blocks under your hands to raise the floor. Downward Dog too intense? You can stand and use a chair to stretch out your spine, giving the opening of Downward Dog without the pressure on your hands and feet.
- Child’s Pose: Feeling like Child’s Pose doesn’t work for your body shape? Widen your legs to make room for your belly and put a block under your forehead. Feeling like your thighs are far away from your feet? Add a bolster or cushion between the backs of your calves and your thighs.
- Tree Pose: There are so many options to modify Tree Pose. You can kickstand your foot on the inside of your ankle, keeping your toes on the floor, or you can place a block under your toes for support. Tree still shaky? Hold onto the back of a chair to support your balance.
Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to modify! Modifying a pose doesn’t mean you’re not a real yogi. Your practice is YOURS and it is unique to you. What your practice looks like today, could be very different from next week. Give your body the support it needs, and we’ll see you in the On Demand Library where you can practice with your favorite Health Yoga Life Teachers!