Let’s talk about props. 

In some forms of yoga props are used as a “remedial measure”. In other words, if a student “can’t do” a particular pose, the teacher provides a “gap filler” in the form of a prop.  An example is if a student can’t reach the floor in a standing forward bend, you can “fill in the gap” with a block or a chair under his or her hands. 

The idea that props are remedial fits the perspective that yoga is about how far the body goes from point a to point b.

With this conventional modern perspective about yoga, the further, broader or more extreme the angles, the more advanced the practitioner is perceived to be. The goal is to go further… and if one can’t, then a prop is used.  The prop may be seen as something to use “for now”, until the goal of going further is met someday in the future. 

In SRY {Spinal Release Yoga or Soma Release Yoga} we are primarily interested in letting go, and in the rejuvenating inner nectar {soma} that is gathered within when we let go deeply.

We do use props to “fill in the gap”, caring for the body by meeting it where it is. Here though we are not waiting for a goal, but rather supporting an inner unfoldment in the personalized angles taking place in the moment right now. 

We also use props for a few more key reasons. 

  • To allow the body to let go into support.
  • To HOLD the body in specific angles and target designated areas for healing change.
  • To quiet the mind – a result of the body being supported in general.
  • To protect hypermobile joints by preventing over stretching.
  • To encourage deep relaxation.

The purpose of SRY is not how far does the body go from a to b but rather, what inner  resolve, relaxation, release, and rejuvenation can take place when I let go at the deepest level. The props are used to support our purpose in practice. 

In fact, often the students that “can” go the “furthest” in a pose {hypermobile bodied yogis} are the ones who would benefit the most from props that prevent them from doing what I call “stretching PAST the point of HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION”.

It is often the yoga practitioners that love to push themselves {pitta type yogis}, or who flop easily and boundlessly into extreme angles {vata type yogis}, who benefit the most from being contained by props and experiencing the unfoldment in doing less. 

What happens if you back out of an extreme, supported by props, and discover something inward that was being ignored or avoided? 

 

I call this containment yoga, and it is a primary part of my work, used to take yogis into deeper release and transformation. What is it? Using even MORE props than needed. Props props everywhere!

Imagine being surrounded in a womb-like hug of yoga blankets, or being supported by firm and immoveable props that allow you to let go like a newborn being held in a parent’s arm.

There are times when we need to be “contained” in particular… here are a few times when “containment yoga” is especially helpful…

  • You are experiencing overwhelm in life.
  • The weight of the world is resting on your shoulders
  • Many responsibilities mean there it becomes nearly impossible to relax – even during sleep!
  • Your mind is especially restless or busy.
  • You are anxious and having trouble settling down.
  • Your body is experiencing increased pain, especially in your joints.
  • You have been undergoing lots of change and instability – internally or in life.
  • The weather is cold or windy, and you are feeling “bone cold”.
  • You have been traveling or on the move a lot.

The fall season, and moving into holidays is especially wrought with these characteristics, isn’t it?

What if your yoga poses could feel like a firm hug? You know the kind, where you feel loved, supported, stabilized.

What if, in your yoga practice, you could feel especially held, warmed, supported and contained? Let me use those words again to describe the feeling of extra propping in yoga poses.

 

Held. Warmed. Supported. Contained.

I’ll share these words of a student from over a decade ago: as she walked to get more yoga blankets in order to sit on a throne in a seated pose, “I used to think more props meant I was remedial, now I KNOW more props mean I’m advanced!”

She understood that truly “advanced” in yoga is about paying dear attention to the need of the moment, loving yourself starting with the body, and being free from a sense of insecurity!

Love,
Kaya