Have you ever tried to power through a pose despite suggestions from your instructor that a block could be used? Many of us tend to believe that we don’t need props, as if using them means we are somehow less capable of naturally moving into the postures of our flow sequence.
Props should not reflect your inability to touch the ground, but instead be viewed as an aide to help you achieve greater depth and movement into positions. Our bodies are all different, which means we can’t necessarily move into all asanas properly or with ease. Sometimes, props are the best way of allowing us to reap all the benefits of these postures.
A few weeks ago at our studio, we watched a documentary highlighting the life of B.K.S Iyengar and his influence on the spread of yoga worldwide. The Iyengar style is a different approach to yoga from what we practice at Modo, but the lessons in the film are applicable to any yogi. One of the main things we have Iyengar to thank for is the addition and importance of these very props to our practice.
When you enter the room of an Iyengar class, you’ll find it filled with chairs, blocks, straps and other props to help move you into postures correctly, and to take your mind and body away from the pose. These props are seen as tools to assist in getting into the pose correctly, not as a result of the perceived shortcomings of your body.
Take dancer’s pose as an example. I have found it difficult to move into the position without the assistance of a strap. As soon as I strap my leg in and pull up my foot, my body opens beautifully to take in all the benefits of the pose without trying to compensate otherwise. It is something I am not able to achieve with my body alone.
Restorative and yin classes are more examples of the great benefits that props can add to your practice. They allow you to release any tension that may exist in trying to hold poses for extended lengths as is common with these class sequences. Think of supported bridge with a block and how different it feels from the standard bridge pose when you’re supported.
I encourage you to grab a couple of props next time you enter the hot room and explore different postures with and without them. It truly is a great way to understand how your body moves in postures and allows you to benefit in more ways than one.