National Worship of Tools Day is March 11. While it’s a day meant to celebrate tools like screwdrivers, wrenches, and hammers, I’m going to take a moment talk a bit about some of the tools we use in yoga – specifically yoga props.
I’ll never forget the time as a fairly new teacher, I had planned what I thought was a fun sequence where we would use chairs and blocks to practice and transition from half moon pose (ardha chandrasana) to warrior III (virbhadrasana III) to reverse half moon (parivrtta ardha chandrasana). I wanted to take everyone through the poses first with the chairs and then the blocks before going through the sequence without props. The intent was to build confidence and awareness of alignment with the props before letting students play with the full poses and transitions without them.
But there was this one student. “I don’t use props,” he said, and closed his eyes. End of discussion. I was totally thrown (did I mention I was fairly new to teaching?). I threw my plan out the window and the class was not what I hoped it would be. I was disappointed and felt like I didn’t give my students their best experience.
As a more experienced and confident teacher, I would now suggest that the student try using the props to see what insights he would gain; then I would teach the class I intended, whether he chose to use the props or not. The Ms. Sassy Pants in me might also say this: Get over yourself. Seriously. Your mat is a prop, so if you “don’t use props“, you best roll that bad boy up.
Clearly in the debate of whether to prop or not, I’m in the prop usage camp. Props are not just for the inflexible, but they can also be used as learning tools for more experienced and/or flexible practitioners. I’ve been practicing yoga for 20 years this year (yay!) and I still have a-ha moments when I try things new ways.
So check your ego, explore some new ways to get into poses, and let yourself have a little fun along the way!