A Sutra a Day: I-16 – To Prop or Not to Prop

Jun 1, 2012 | XSutras, xTmp, Yoga practices, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Yoga teaching , Yoga Therapy | 2 comments

Yoga forward bend by Eve using chair and bolster

The air this morning was clean, fresh and cool from last night’s gentle showers.  A good time, I thought for practising pranayama.
I thought of another goal when I went out to the Yoga Shed to practice. I wanted to incorporate the poses that I will teach in one of the sessions of the Byron Yoga Therapy Course next week.
You’d know if you’ve ever been to my yoga classes that I get students to use props for almost every pose. I guess I just like them for myself and I find them effective in the following ways:

  1. For support when you can’t quite reach a pose.
  2. To help explore a pose in a new way.
  3. To create ease and relaxation in both active and restorative poses.

New students may have reactions to using props, thinking they are fiddly and in the way. But I find that newbies are the very ones who may get the most benefit out of using them.
I have had reactions from the teacher trainees in the Therapy Course in past years because some of them subscribe to Ashtanga or Bikram or any of the many kinds of yoga that are “unpropped”.
What I’ve noticed is that when someone rebels against using props that I then have a reaction to their reaction. When I was doing my practice this morning, I decided to create the session I will be teaching up north in my mind’s eye, to make it fun, interesting, inspiring, and still leave room for “dissenters”.
The irony to anyone disavowing props is that they are so effective in terms of yoga therapy. That’s why they appear in all of the YogaAnywhere Tool Kit sequences for dealing with insomnia, menopause, anxiety, and so forth.
This doesn’t take away from the fact that I have much to learn about non-reactivity. That’s definitely where pranayama and meditation come in.

Tat Param Purusa-Kyateh Guna-Vaitrsnam

When the ultimate level of non reaction has been reached, pure awareness can clearly see itself as independent from the fundamental qualities of nature.*
*The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, translation and commentary by Chip Hartranft


  1. I love the use of Props especially for my over 50’s class and wish I was back in Byron for another yoga therapy training !! Loved it!!

    • Hi Sue,
      Props are great for students to get settled in poses and to feel right about where they are – especially helpful for older bodies where stiffness, injuries or medical conditions are a concern. But, if students want to do you yoga at home, it seems they remember salutes-to-the-sun or some such flowing sequences better than how to manipulate props for best effect. Except for legs-up-the-wall. Once they’ve learned it, everyone remembers that one!


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