Prop me up…

Just a little over a year ago, I was team teaching a charity class at Beyond Yoga Studio & Wellness Centre.  In typical baby girl fashion, I had asked to teach first so once my turn was done, I could soak up the vibes of Carole and Diane’s instruction.  Our Beyond community is so generous that the class was very full and when I finished, I had to remain at the very front of the room.  Near the end when we were holding bridge pose, Diane, in her sweet way without a break in her teaching, gave me a side-eye and slipped a block under my sacrum.  She was right, I totally needed it, but as the “yoga teacher” at the front of the yoga class, my lovely ego had me ignore what my body required.

*Beautiful, but truly useless in yoga.

It’s an interesting phenomenon in yoga classes everywhere.  We are a society that will use a dishwasher, a television remote and an electric toothbrush without a second thought, but we resist using a block for our front hand in Triangle Pose.  Why do you think that is?  Most of us have been driving for many years, and probably learned to use a map in grade school, we won’t hesitate to use a GPS, but gosh darn it we will not sit up on a blanket for Easy Pose.

*Of course he doesn’t need a blanket under his hips, he’s not even a real frog.

Yoga props can seem intimidating.  There are mats, blocks, straps, blankets, and bolsters just to name a few and each one has countless possibilities, and at first they can seem a bit strange.  Every yoga teacher knows the look one receives when handing an individual new to yoga a strap.

*Good grief, what does she expect me to do with that?

However, if you allow yourself to try yoga props, which you totally should, they can completely change your practice for the better.  Props encourage proper alignment, help you develop strength and give greater stability totally deepening your physical practice.  Perhaps even cooler though, is the increased self awareness you develop when you open yourself up to using them.  Once you open yourself up to the assistance, you learn to start asking yourself…What do I need in this pose? Would a folded blanket under my hips in a seated forward fold help with my tight hamstrings? Would a bolster under my forehead in child’s pose encourage my hips closer to my heels?  Would a block under my sacrum in bridge give me the support I need?

*Seriously, we are here to help.

As I learned in that charity class, and honestly have to remind myself with alarming frequency, being great at yoga isn’t avoiding props.  Being great at yoga is asking yourself, in each yoga class, in each yoga pose, what do I need at this moment to feel good?  The more we practice this on the mat, the more we practice it in life and how much better would that be.

P.S. I would love to hear what you think, what ignites your fire, or how you survive these winter months.  Please “Leave a Reply” below, or you can email me directly at yogabeyondwords@gmail.com

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Posted by: Cara-Lynne Auld

It was the late 1990s when I first practiced yoga. My Mom had signed us up for a 6 week course taught at a rustic cottage on the outskirts of a small town. The instructor had shaved her head and changed her name to one I couldn’t pronounce, but she weaved the magic that comes with a great class. I loved it then, and have since, but like many great love affairs, we had our ups and downs, yoga and ... read bio

6 Responses to “Prop me up…”

  1. Christine says:

    I love to use the block under my spine to open up my neck and shoulders. It’s not really what lights my fire but it sure gets rid of the ‘hunch’!

  2. Cara-Lynne says:

    Ah yes! The block under the spine is delicious Christine and an awesome heart opener as well as reliever of the “hunch”. Great reminder. Thank you. Namaste.

  3. It’s funny – as an Ashtangi I never really used props, but then when I started teacher training at a Iyengar-inspired studio, it was all about props. And you know what – I teach all my introductory classes with props because they are GREAT. I hand them to everyone, then no one feels singled out. I also demo with props for those classes because I think it’s often safer. I also tell the class that if you have your knees propped up in baddha konasana, you can relax into the pose without feeling like you have to hold your knees up – allows for more opening.

    Great post, as always, Cara-Lynne! It’s hard to put the ego away, but you are 100% right – you need to honor what you need right now 🙂

    • Cara-Lynne Auld says:

      Thank you Nicole. What a great comment reminding us of the journey that is yoga, and a great use of props for Baddha Konasana, one of my favorite poses (of course, I say that to all the poses;). Namaste, Cara-Lynne

  4. I read this post and it really resonated with me. “What do I need in this moment to feel good?”. So much more than a question to ask myself during my yoga practice – a question to ask myself throughout every day. Too many times I get bogged down in the “shoulds” and “musts” of my work and personal life that I forget to put myself into the conversation. Remembering that it’s ok to consider what I really need in any moment is a little gift to myself. Thank-you Cara-Lynne.

    • Cara-Lynne Auld says:

      Well, thank you Helen for the feedback and comment. I think it’s awesome that you give yourself permission to consider what you really need. I loved the idea that it’s a little gift to yourself. Namaste, Cara-Lynne


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