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Using Props During Yoga

I’m in a yoga class and the teacher has us start out sitting cross-legged on our mat. She walks over to another student and gives him a block, telling him to sit on it. He looks around the room at the other students in class and looks uncomfortable because no one else is sitting on a block. “Is that cheating?” the student asks. The teacher kindly explained to the new yogi that because his hips are tight, sitting on a block will help him sit up straighter so he didn’t slouch. He placed the block under him and his face went from confused to comfortable when he sat on the block and immediately grew taller.

There has been several times when situations like that have happened, so I think it’s important for people, whether they are new to yoga or are experienced and just need a reminder, to know that blocks and other props such as bolsters, blankets and straps are there to help you enhance poses. They are not “crutches” and using these props won’t make you a cheater or prove you are weaker than others. Everyone’s bodies are built differently and certain poses might not be achievable without the help of a prop. For example, in triangle pose if someone tries putting their hand on the ground and their top shoulder rolls forward, they are missing the whole point of the stretch, which is to open and expand through the chest. When they place the grounded hand on a block, that person is able to roll the top shoulder back, feeling the stretch.

So, if you are in yoga class and the instructor comes over and hands you a prop, don’t be offended or let your ego get in the way. Take the opportunity to expand your practice and get the full benefits of the pose.

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