by Maredith Schroeder
The first yoga class I attended five years ago was in a small studio my friend dragged me into. The room was carpeted wall to wall with three stripes down the center of the room, a mirror from the floor to the ceiling that I could not escape from and stark walls. I was asked to bring a towel. That towel was my only prop. I practiced with a towel for the first year of my yogic journey and a towel was good enough and it served its purpose of keeping me from slipping during standing poses but more importantly- slopping off the sweat that would drizzle down my legs, arms and forehead.
A year into my hot yoga practice, a new instructor started to teach at the studio and with her teachings came a whole new set of “stuff”. She immediately started adding pictures throughout the room and now I couldnt get away from the eyes of Shiva, Krishna, Buddha and all sort of other deities aligning the walls. To be honest, I was resistant to the new teaching and all the “stuff” she brought. I thought that you should not practice yoga with props, and you rely only on your own body. Alignment was not even in my yogic vocabulary.
The first class I took with the new instructor, she had us use a mat. For the first time ever, in over one full year- I was introduced to a mat! Who knew that a 5/8 in thick of padding could actually keep me from clenching my toes into the floor during trikonasana and virabadrasana 3. For the first time ever, at least in this lifetime, I actually put my hands onto the earth and created what the instructor called “down-ward facing dog”. Then the instructor showed us the use of a blocks to elevate our pelvis as if we were on a chair. I figured it was more comfortable than the chairs I had at home so if I just got rid of those chairs and replaced those with blocks, what a service I would do for my family as I would help facilitate better posture for them. If I got two blocks and stretched a board along and across the blocks I would have a sofa, and we could get rid of that as well. Needless to say, by husband balked at the idea of having his buddies sit on blocks and blankets around singing bowls of potato chips as they watched Sunday football.
The world of props opened before me, and I was in heaven! I learned how to lengthen my short arms with straps and I used the wall for my first ever headstand! I have since become an instructor and the use of props has allowed me the beautiful experience of teaching yoga to seniors, with the use of chairs. The use of props has allowed me to use bolsters, countless blankets, and an eye pillow to help prenatal women experience and appreciate savasana. The use of props have allowed me to use balls and bells and other “stuff” to teach toddlers and children. And the use of the yoga mat have allowed me to teach “Adho Mukha Svanasana”.
Maredith Schroeder is the Director of Teachers, a yoga teacher and the assistant Director of Teacher Training at Inner Vision Yoga.
All suggestions are voluntary. Consult a qualified teacher or your physician before you embark on any practice in which you are unfamiliar.
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