Before I completed my Yoga Teacher Training, I practically never used any props. My teacher would offer them during classes but I would stick up my nose and refuse. My ego told me that I would look like less of a yogi if I used a block under my hand. I felt like I needed to prove that I could do it on my own. I thought that a prop meant I was not good enough and that I needed to make the pose easier.
My training taught me one very important thing, props do not mean it is easier. In fact, many of the poses felt more difficult after adding props because I was engaging the proper muscles! Props enhance our practice. It is not a cop out by any means. Props help you find proper alignment in the pose. All of our bodies are built differently and props help accommodate for that.
We can become caught up on some “full variation” of the pose. We tell ourselves we need to look like XYZ in order to really have conquered it. But your goal with each yoga posture should be an intended benefit, not a final look. So when we are forcing our hand to the mat in Triangle we are not getting any of the benefits from lengthening through the side body. With a block under the hand, we are able to really experience the pose and soak up all the benefits.
Without props, we can form dangerous habits. By forcing our bodies into positions that they are not built for or ready for we can be doing much more harm than good. Props create muscle memory that will help us when we remove them.
And my final reason for being such strong supporter of the prop world, is yoga is supposed to calm and relax the mind. So take the struggle out! Allow yourself to feel supported so the muscles can relax. Then you are able to hold the pose longer, open up, and relax. It’s really difficult to keep a steady breath when you are struggling and forcing yourself through the entire practice.
I promise no one will think less of you for grabbing those props during class. It might even make your teacher gleam with joy.✨