Guest post by Yogasteya blogger, Melissa Hite
I’ve noticed something deeply concerning in yoga classes lately, and it’s really starting to bother me. It appears that many people are actively avoiding the use of props as part of their yoga practice. I have a feeling that both semantics and active egos are at play here, as the term ‘prop’ has somehow become synonymous with the term ‘crutch’ in the modern yoga vernacular.
I am willing to admit that I once felt this way too, but the wisdom of age, experience and changes in my body have broadened my mind. You see, the ego gets the definition of prop mixed up with crutch all the time. Until suddenly, we’re left stranded on our mats – reaching too far and risking injury, all in a vain effort to show that we can do the “full expression of the pose”. Thankfully, though, it doesn’t have to be this way.
In order to liberate us all from the burden of linguistics, I’ve decided to dig a little deeper into Webster’s Dictionary so that you can find it easier to pick up that block the next time you go to a yoga class.
A pole or beam used as a support or to keep something in position, typically one that is not an integral part of the thing supported. “300 tubular steep props”. Synonyms: pole, post, support, upright, brace, pillar, bolster, column. “The roof is help up by props”.
To position something underneath (someone or something) for support. “She propped her chin in the palm of her right hand”. Synonyms: hold up, bolster up, support, brace, underpin. “This post is propping the wall up”.
- A long stick with a crosspiece at the top, used as a support under the armpit by a lame person.
- Archaic/another term for crotch (of the body or garment).
Now, what do you notice about those definitions?
First, a prop is a support while a crutch, on the other hand, is “a long stick” that belongs in your armpit.
Hmm, a “support” versus a “long stick”.
So, if you use a long stick under your armpit as a support, then I suppose a crutch would be a prop. But a prop, by virtue of its very definition, is NOT a crutch. Let that sink in a moment: a prop is not a crutch.
A prop is a tool for helping your body successfully get into a certain pose or structure in a way that supports your body! Our bodies are not put together in the same universal way. Our joints are different sizes; our bones don’t match in length. I could go on for a while with this, but you get the picture. We are as different on the inside as we are on the outside.
I hope this lesson in linguistics as been helpful in changing your perspective of those handy tools lined up in the back of your yoga class. After all, yoga is about using your body and the tools you need to support it, whether you’re on the mat or off.
So the next time you walk in the studio, grab a block or two. Grab a blanket, or maybe even a strap, and get comfy. Use them, and if you’re teacher isn’t and you’re not sure how…ASK! Or send me a message, and I’ll help you. These props are practice changers.
I hope you’ll try using props as a way to make your yoga practice more enjoyable and adaptive, and I hope you have the same experience as I did, and continue to do, each time I reach for a prop every time I practice!
Here’s some inspiration from a recent practice…a block party.
Melissa Hite is a yoga teacher and creative explorer. She began practicing yoga a decade ago, and grew that practice into her life on and off the mat. She spent a few too many years living someone else’s dream, but she took the leap in 2013 and built her wings in flight. Melissa practices from a body-positive, intentional space. She brings joy and humor to the mat, and loves to share the practice of yoga with people who are connecting with themselves in new ways. Along with teaching, she facilitates workshops, teacher training and is writing her way into the new year.