Individuals who would like to get into shape before Christmas and get a head start on their New Year’s resolution could invest in some quality Yoga mats and props to help them tone up.

According to Charlotte Watts, a nutritional therapist, Yoga teacher and co-author of The De-Stress Diet, props are an important part of a body-intelligent Yoga practice because they offer support and resistance.

They can also bridge the gap between our body and the floor when we can’t quite reach.

"This last point is crucial: if ego and ambition enter our practice and we don’t use a block or belt when we need one, we can push into poses, creating both force and even potential injury. This immediately takes us out of the realms of yoga where we can breathe freely to create connection and opening and moves us towards a state of clenching and caring only about ’the stretch’ or end point of a pose," she commented.

Using Yoga equipment can also help us create balance and prevent us from pushing too hard in one direction.

"If you have to round the back to reach the toes in a forward bend, you can’t find space in the front body and get caught up with ’how far down you can go’. This is not the point - use a belt around the feet and you’ll see you can create length in the front spine," Ms Watts explained.

Practising in this way helps our body to open more because the muscles can expand and lengthen, helping us to achieve better posture.

"Gripping and pushing create more contraction and less likelihood of that ’perfect pose’," the expert added.

Ms Watts’ comments came after actress Andie MacDowell claimed Yoga is her "sanctuary" and has "helped everything".

"It’s helped my outlook, how I interact with people, it’s made me more conscious, it’s helped me be able to focus, make better decisions, think on my feet. I don’t know what I’d do without it. It’s my sanctuary," the Four Weddings star told Yoga magazine.

Posted by Freya Harper