The prop wall in a yoga studio can often be overwhelming and intimidating. There are straps, blankets, blocks, bolsters and…sand bags. These 10 lb bags are often neglected in class but can be versatile and heighten the effects of a pose. In addition to being soothing, they can be used to add a little extra weight to encourage a deeper opening in certain poses and help you let go of resistance. Before I explain how to use them, I wanted to touch on why they are soothing in certain poses.
In hospitals and psychiatric care, weighted blankets are used to provide input to the deep pressure touch receptors throughout the body. Deep pressure touch stimulation (DPTS) has been found to have beneficial effects in a variety of clinical settings (Barnard and Brazelton 1990, Gunzenhauser 1990). Deep pressure touch helps the body relax by mimicking a firm hug or swaddling. The weight helps us feel secure and grounded. In fact, DPTS helps encourage the production of Serotonin, a hormone that induces a more peaceful and happier state of mind. Weighted blankets have been popular in treating ADHD, autism, insomnia, anxiety, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Below are a few ways to use sandbags:
- In seated bound angle pose (badha konasana), bring the soles of your feet together and place sandbags on your knees to help open the inner thigh and inner hip muscles without resistance.
- Increase lung capacity and soothe breathing problems during pranayama or savasana by placing a sandbag on your abdomen while lying on your back.
- Place a sandbag on the bottom of your feet in legs up the wall (viparita karani) to stabilize your legs and provide extra support and weight.
- Soothe your psyche, back ad hips by placing a bag on your lower back during child’s pose (balasana).
- Place a sandbag on your thighs near your waist in seated staff pose (dandasana) to help you root down as you lengthen the spine.
- Quiet the mind and the brain in Savasana by placing a sandbag on your forehead as well as a block at its highest height behind your head.
Next time you are in class-go and grab one. Feel the difference.