Often times students have a hard time using props, feeling like it cheapens their practice, or that it shows weakness… This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
A few weeks ago I was setting up for class, passing out props. Just as usual, I have everyone grab a block and a strap, just in case. Sometimes I will use them for something that is not a modification, and everyone will need them. Sometimes it just comes in handy to give you a little extra height in pyramid pose, or to help the shoulders to stretch in Gomukhasana.
As I handed the strap and block to a new woman in class, she held up her hands and said “I’m flexible enough, I don’t need those”. My first instinct was to be annoyed. “Who do you think you are!?” I thought. But I calmly said, “We will all be using these for some special postures I have planned this evening”, gave her a smile, and began to relate to her.
I remember when I first started taking yoga, watching all the graceful and beautiful yogis move effortlessly from posture to posture. The last thing I wanted to be was the loser with the stack of blocks under me, shaking and trembling. I hadn’t yet learned the lesson that yoga is never about how far you can go – it’s about how you go. What we look like in yoga doesn’t matter one lick! It’s all about how we feel, and how kind we are being to our bodies. We all have our own uniquely perfect practice.
Well, lucky for me, I had a wonderfully aware instructor that quickly taught me these lessons and always encouraged the use of props to deepen in the practice. I am determined to teach my students the same lesson.
So naturally, today, I was THRILLED at the end of class, as my students were packing up their things, to hear a woman say “I’ve never used these block things before – they’re great!”.
A few other students piped up with the same sentiments and I know I must have been glowing! What a wonderful thing to see students focused on feeling and living their yoga, rather than showing off, comparing and pumping up that ego.
So props ton your props, my dear students!