Most of us think the physical brain is the only place where intelligence and perception occur. But B.K.S. Iyengar says that view devalues the innate intelligence of the body—the yogi's vehicle on the path to stilling the consciousness. He insists that intelligence can be cultivated in every cell of the body. One of the methods he has developed for expanding intelligence is to use props while practicing asana.
The skin is our first layer of intelligence, and the nerves in the skin feed information to the mind, Iyengar says. Since an average square inch of skin contains more than a thousand nerve endings, when a prop touches the skin, our consciousness is awakened and enlivened. Intelligence is developed not because we feel something but because we can observe where the prop touches us and where it doesn't, and in what way the prop teaches us something new. "Every prop must make an imprint on the body," Iyengar says, so that intelligence can be cultivated. There is no purpose to using a prop if we don't learn something from it.