Monday, June 12, 2006

Teaching Hatha Yoga: The Value of Props

certified hatha yoga teacher training courses
By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

For Yoga teachers the value of props as a tool for alignment is priceless. Yet it is amazing when a Yoga teacher has a negative view of props and the students who use them. Every once in a while you get to hear contrasting views, but below I have listed two quotes that no one wants to take credit for.

“There are no props in my style, in my classes, or in my town. My Yoga teacher says props are a crutch and there is no reason to make them available to students.”

This is a closed minded view, if I ever heard one. What about the student who cannot bring his, or her, spine in a straight line when practicing Triangle posture? One block, placed in the correct location, will change the alignment of the entire body.

A wall might also make a major difference to some Yoga students. So why not adjust a student into better alignment so she or he can hold the position longer? This will build strength and the Yoga student will actually memorize correct alignment by feeling it.

“Yoga props are fluff. These people are not really practicing Yoga.”

This one comment “takes the cake.” My answer to this person was that she should seek a Yoga teacher who shared her lack of tolerance. Since Yoga training encompasses many things; who should say what “real Yoga” is, or is not?

Props are used by Yoga teachers from many styles of Hatha Yoga such as Iyengar Yoga, Tri Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Chair Yoga, and many more Hatha sub-styles. To be honest, the Yoga mat is a prop. It was not that long ago when Yogis did not use Yoga mats. Why reject progress being made by some of the most innovative minds in modern day Yoga?

One mistake that most Yoga students and Yoga instructors make is classifying and thinking of postures as beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Each body is unique and will be exceptional in some ways and less exceptional in others. We should stop focusing on the next “advanced posture” and think about the alignment of the Yoga posture we are in at the present moment.

Proper alignment should never be compromised for the sake of the ego. When you know that a blanket, bolster, ball, strap, block, chair, wall, or another prop would help a student’s alignment; using a prop is a “no brainer.”

Yoga teachers should make props available, but also be prepared to improvise. Most teachers do not have every prop available in their Yoga school. This is not a problem, and it will teach you to be creative. One of our Yoga teachers shows her students how to use the kitchen counter, the bottom steps of a stair case, and towels as props for Yoga practice at home.

There is no limit to what can be used for a Yoga prop. Our true potential, as Yoga teachers, is only limited by our thinking.

© Copyright 2006 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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