Traditionally, yoga could be done anywhere, anytime without anything. No mats, no yoga props, no music. It comprised of asanas to help people sit in meditative postures for a long time.
B.K.S Iyengar added props in yoga, to help people benefit from the asanas. Practitioners across all age groups and different fitness levels were able to get similar benefits with the help of yoga bricks, belts, etc. Overtime, props gained popularity as people with stiff spine could get into Chakrasana, Halasana. Belts helped people stretch their hamstrings or calves better. And a whole range of props were added to yoga.
With Vinyasa, Power Yoga becoming the new rage across the globe and fitness studios. Props were sidelined. Today, a lot of people either doubt the use of props or swear by them. Which leaves the nouveau practitioners perplexed.
Some yogis feel that using props is forceful and made it seem like the yoga equivalent of cheating in an exam. BUT, to use or not to use props, depends on the goal of your yoga practice.
For therapeutic purposes, props are an absolute blessing. Using a strategically placed prop can open your body, increasing range of motion, flexibility without putting you in a vulnerable position to injuries.
Even in Restorative Yoga, the main aim is to relax and rejuvenate. Thus, people set up props and stay in the asana for 10-20 minutes.
People without injuries, wanting to lose weight or get fitter, may feel that the props are more of a hindrance. In yoga styles such as Vinyasa or Total yoga, there is a flow of movements. But, setting your prop after every pose is a hindrance to the flow and interrupts the practice. In our fast paced lives, we take off 60-90 minutes to workout and get mindful. And interruptions dampen the “Blissful place of Dhyana or Zen.”
Whereas in some studios, the minimal props are used to enhance the practice. The use of props encourages weak parts to strengthen and less flexible areas to lengthen.
Yoga is not “one-size-fits-all” practice, even though it’s accessible to everyone. I believe you need to find your style of yoga instead of tying yourself up in knots trying on poses the way everyone else is doing . Try everything and find your “Happy-Yoga-Zone,” it will be positive and empowering.
“There are a lot of heavens and hells, right here on earth. We need to visit them all, to find our heaven and experience our blissful state. To each his own.”
My Yoga – My practice – My rules – My happy place
Total Yoga is a balanced style of Yoga that focuses on Fitness training and Mindfulness practice equally.