By Faye Martins
Some yoga teachers have issues with the value of props. It may have occurred when they were indoctrinated at their first yoga teacher training course. The reason being that a few yoga teacher course organizers believe all interns should conform to the dogma of the style or the beliefs of the “head guru;” even if there is scientific proof that props will help students during yoga practice. Without bashing any person who teaches yoga, we can easily imagine instructors who demand, push, and force their students to do things on or off the mat. Some people need to control others and this prevents students from reaping the full benefits of all that yoga offers.
Yoga is a profoundly beneficial form of exercise that is good for the mental and physical health of people of all ages and levels of health. Yoga props are generally considered to be any tools used in the practice of the exercise such as mats, blocks and pillows, and may be selected to fit the needs of the person using them. Yoga props, when used properly, give greater support to the body during poses, allowing them to be held longer, and with significantly less difficulty. They also help to prevent injury and strain to the muscles, since they can act as extensions of the body, allowing it to stay aligned. The longer the pose is held, the better and deeper the stretching, and the greater the healing benefits.
Props are ideal for the practice of restorative Yoga, as they can aid the elderly and people with joint problems, pregnant women, heavy people and people with muscle weakness. Yoga exercises that open up the chest area are ideal for people with breathing difficulties and heart problems, as it promotes blood flow and lung capacity, and people with such problems can benefit greatly from the help of props. The use of props in Yoga training can also prevent unwanted movement where exactness is required, and can help to direct this movement. However, props can be beneficial to everyone, especially those starting out. When you have something supporting you, you experience greater relaxation.
Many common, everyday household things can be used as Yoga props. One only needs to look around them. Door and doorways, walls, couches and chairs, blankets, books, pillows, belts and tables can all be used without the need for any additional purchases. But if one is leaving the home to do Yoga, these things may not be readily taken, and the purchase of yoga equipment becomes recommended or necessary. In this case, props such as mats, bolsters, specialized pillows and wooded blocks are all readily available at any sporting goods or department store. Exercise balls, found in nearly any community fitness center, are also excellent for practicing yoga, as they stretch out and open up the body and strengthen the core muscles to improve posture, breathing and digestive health.
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