There’s an array of equipment available for your yoga practice and you could spend a fortune on it but is any of it worth investing in?
Over the past ten years of yoga practice and teaching I have to say that the number one prop that I use on an almost weekly basis is the humble brick.
I've found them to be the most versatile pieces of equipment you can own so if you only get one prop for your practice, get one (preferably two) of these.
They can be used in a multitude of ways to give support as well as feedback in a number of positions. Here‘s my myriad of suggestions...
Bring the floor up to you:
When you can't reach the floor in some poses there's a tendency to get sloppy and compensate somewhere else, losing the integrity of the pose. In these instances bricks can be a brilliant tool to bring the floor up to you to enable you to find more space and control in the pose.
For example, when moving from cat into a lunge you could use two bricks to create space for you to move the leg forward. You could use it in poses such as half moon or rotated kneeling lunges and many more.
Check your alignment:
If you have a tendency to just your chin forward or hang your head in neutral cat or plank pose, you can place your brick along the neck to enable you to keep your neck long.
In floating cat it’s easy to sag from the lumbar spine in order to lift the leg up higher than you need to. Balancing a brick on the sacrum is a fantastic way to remind you to keep the pelvis neutral and your natural lumbar curve sustained as you lift your leg behind you.
A tool for strengthening:
You can also use them for strengthening work. When performing hamstring curls, place the brick between the calf and hamstring and hold it there (and embrace the cramp!). It’s also great as a tool to integrate parts of the body in core work, including planks, and waking up the thighs and glutes in bridge.
Add a challenge to balances:
To add an extra challenge to balance work you could try to remain standing on one leg as you place the brick on the floor then pick it up again with the other hand, switching hands each time (I call this one the 'flamingo shuffle'). Alternatively, if you find one legged balances easy try standing on a block and doing them!
Exploration of movement:
Try the tea tray challenge - balance a brick on a flat palm (like a tea tray with your gran’s finest bone china on there!) then move your shoulder through a full range of motion whilst trying to keep it level. It's a great way to focus the mind too!
Support the body:
In restorative yoga they are also handy for supported bridge, a gentle inversion, or you could use two for reclined cobblers to support the thighs.
You don't have to spend a fortune on them, you can pick them up cheaply from sports shops, Argos or TK Maxx. These tend to be the less solid hard foam ones but if you want a little more stability I would highly recommend getting the more dense cork bricks from places such as www.yogamatters.com or Yoga Mad.