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Use Your Tools! How Yoga Props Can Deepen Your Practice

My earliest experience in a movement class came when I was about 5 years old, practicing along with my mom’s Jane Fonda workout videos. In these aerobics-based sessions, we were instructed to use one- to three-pound weights to increase the difficulty of the movements. My mom didn’t have weights so I would use tomato soup cans instead. I suppose that was my first time making use of props in a movement practice—and my first time substituting a prop for a household item.

In my early days of practicing yoga, props were not a big part of my practice. I started out attending very large, mixed-level power vinyasa classes at a popular studio in Santa Monica. While there were blocks, straps, and bolsters available, there weren’t enough for everyone. Most of the teachers would give us the option to grab props if we needed them, but I don’t recall ever receiving instruction on when or how or why to use them.

See also: Why Everyone (Including You) Should Use Props in Their Practice

Embracing yoga props

When I completed my yoga teacher training several years later, my teaching reflected a similar use (or non-use) of props. While I wasn’t necessarily averse to them, I did have a general sense that props were there to make things easier. Which was fine. But I thought that true progress would come from a more autonomous approach—one that didn’t require the use of props, but rather would require me to solely rely on my own body.

I have evolved! My understanding, interest, and use of props has developed.  I now recognize that props are simply tools. And it’s not just about blocks and bolsters. Even a sticky mat is a prop (though it’s usually taken for granted—and most likely overused—if our aim is a truly strong, resilient, and adaptable body).

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