Prop Snob or Prop Proponent?

Are you a prop snob or a prop proponent?

At Sunrise Yoga, we are definitely prop proponents! But there are those who feel using yoga props is a form of “cheating” or a sign of “weakness”. Here’s why we feel yoga props serve an important role in your yoga practice and can turn any “weakness” into a strength.

Valerie Kiser, owner and founder of Sunrise Yoga in Clemmons, NC, uses a yoga strap to accentuate a yoga pose.

At Sunrise Yoga, we are dedicated to providing a safe, educational, and fun environment for the practice of yoga. Each class contains yoga poses of the body, breathing practices, meditation, and relaxation. You and your instructor will develop a personalized approach to each pose creating a greater awareness of your body and mind in motion and in stillness. You are encouraged to work at your own pace honoring your limitations and abilities.

Most of our classes and instruction reflect the teaching of B.K.S. Iyenger, considered one of the foremost yoga instructors in the world. According to the site doyogawithme.com, “The trademark of Iyengar is the intense focus on the subtleties of each posture. B.K.S. Iyengar teaches his classes from his home in Pune, India and has become one of the most influential gurus of our time. In a typical Iyengar class, poses are held much longer than in other schools of yoga, in an effort to pay closer attention to the precise musculoskeletal alignment within each asana. Another trademark of Iyengar is the use of props, such as blocks, belts, bolsters, chairs and blankets, which are used to accommodate injuries, tightness or structural imbalances, as well as teach the student how to move into a posture properly.”

Valerie Kiser, owner and founder of Sunrise Yoga Studio in Clemmons NC, assists a student with yoga props for better alignment.

Because yoga isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to exercise (and more), we take the approach to customize yoga for each participant and props help us do that. Marla Apt, Senior Intermediate level Iyengar instructor, says in featheredpipe.com, “Like the use of medical instruments, the use of props is an exacting science. The patient’s age, mobility, responsiveness to instruction and pain, psychological state and strength must all be taken into consideration and adapted to each individual. Before a pose can be modified with the use of a prop, its properties and qualities must be understood thoroughly.” Instructors at Sunrise Yoga are thoroughly trained to take this exact approach.

Valerie Kiser, owner and founder of Sunrise Yoga Studio in Clemmons, NC, uses yoga props to assist a student with alignment in a yoga pose.

Marla Apt goes on to say in yoganga.com, “In his experiments with his own intensive practice, B.K.S. Iyengar began to use household and found objects to help him improve. He gradually refined and developed props specifically constructed for use in yoga. Today, many of Mr. Iyengar’s innovations with props are commonly seen in the yoga marketplace and their applications are widely used.”

Props aid alignment, balance, relaxation, stretching, and strengthening. Some of the more commonly used props include Blocks, Mats, Straps or Belts, Blankets, Bolsters, Yoga Towels, and Yoga Wheels. At Sunrise Yoga, we also employ chairs and our beautiful yoga wall.

Props provide a means for thoughtful inquiry and direct physical feedback, while fostering confidence to grow our practice,” according to yogauonline.com. These tools can (from mindbodygreen.com):

1. Help you learn the skill involved in sustaining alignment.

2. Take unnecessary struggle out so you cultivate more of a relaxed mind.

3. Make a pose more accessible.

4. Prevent injuries and help old injuries to heal.

5. Create space in the spine and joint stability.

6. Achieve a deeper release of tension as you learn to be in a pose for longer with greater comfort.

7. Promote balance by encouraging weak parts to strengthen and less flexible areas to lengthen.

Yoga includes postures for the body, breathing practices and concentration/meditation techniques. “When we take a functional approach to yoga practice, we decide what area we want to target; we decide where we want to apply a stress to the body and the nature of the stress (either a stretching kind of stress, called tension, or a compressive form of stress, called compression.) If we cannot get the level of stress we desire in the targeted area, then we can either choose a different posture or we can employ props. Props can help to increase stress where there is too little or none at all, and props can also assist in decreasing stress if there is too much,” says author and yoga teacher, Bernie Clark, in Elephant Journal.

Cathy Howe, Sunrise Yoga Instructor, demonstrates the half moon yoga pose using a yoga block.

Need help in finding the props right for your practice? Let our staff help you shop in our boutique, send us an email to info@sunriseyoga.net, or discuss your needs with our instructors.

Do you have a favorite prop or two? Which ones make the most difference in your practice? Please share your prop knowledge with us!!