I have found an interesting article in Yoga Journal, entitled “To Prop or Not to Prop”, and have found the information useful in my yoga practice and teaching.
Here is my attempt to summarize the key principles of using props (blocks, straps, towels):
- Be your own teacher. Use our body’s signals to devise new and effective ways of using props to enhance our practice. Props are particularly useful when we are new to a pose and have not acquired the flexibility/strength to achieve the correct form and alignment
- Be Creative. Even walls, tables, balls, books, socks, neckties, the helping hands of a friend qualify as props. Explore using different props to deepen our practice. Also, use the props in different positions and orientation to help our body learn (sense) the correct form & alignment.
- Be non-attached. As we progress in an asana, we should slowly move away from relying on the props, to using our body as our own ‘prop’. Even attachment to the most common prop – the mat – will hamper our Yoga practice!
I am able to perform Vinyasa and Salamba Sirsasana through using blocks, and see the potential of using props to help my students to overcome fear and enable progress at their own abilities.
Remember that the best yoga prop is always an open mind!