Today’s tech session was a continuation of last week’s session regarding the use of props in a yoga class setting. This week, the teacher began the session by stating (and stressing) that using props in yoga is not “cheating”. Props not only help support a body as it works with a difficult pose, but props can also bring physical and/or mental awareness to a body/mind that is “perfectly able” to get into any pose. This was a good statement for me to hear, and one I really need to internalize. I’m a “purist” (perfectionist) by nature [though I am actively working to let go of harsh extremes, and embrace the soft middle ground of life…], and previously have eschewed the use of props. (And, if I am to be totally honest, I looked down on the idea of “needing” to use a prop.) I have been blessed with natural flexibility, and I can pretty easily bend my way into any crazy pose that is presented to me. I don’t need to use a strap, thank you, I can bend my legs and put my feet behind my head. I don’t need to use a block, thanks anyway, I can make a circle with my torso. I don’t need to use a wall for a headstand, thanks, I can do them free form in the middle of the room. *I* am pretty cool, right?
I hope you are chuckling to yourself at this point, because goodness knows I am! Ah, I was young and dumb, and insecure and neurotic, and fearful and … but those are stories for another day. Suffice to say, I used to think that props were something that a good yoga student should “graduate” past needing. However, in using props last week and again tonight, I began to realize the value of props for all bodies, all abilities, all people.
Tonight as I worked with blocks, and straps, and the wall, I had a humbling realization: My natural flexibility has masked some of my deficits in yoga. While I can bend into any pose, my attainment of some (most?) poses is quite sloppy, and my body is ridiculously weak in many areas. Sure, I can do Bird of Paradise; but the sway in my back is ridiculous. Dancer? No problem – except for the amount of force I have in my arm instead of my leg. And…you get the idea.
So, using props tonight definitely helped me see the value of their implementation into any yoga class, for any (every) student. Great awareness and learning from class today!
Now, for those of you who are jonesin’ for some more sweet stick-figure action, here is a visual summary of the poses we studied tonight (and the props used for each one). Enjoy!
(Click on any image to make it larger.)