Tuesday, June 5, 2012

To prop or not to prop…That is the question?

I had a student ask me the other day about her prop use. She was concerned she might be using her prop to much, her example was for ardha chandrasana (1/2 moon pose). She wasn’t sure if she was using it appropriately. I just love comments and question. In class I talked about this I let go of my original class plan, theme, heart quality, principle of emphasis and instead wove this prop conversation throughout the class.

I think props can be a hindrance. When I first started teaching I was told that you want to move past the prop as soon as you could hold the general shape of the pose without needing any additional support. Reason being that the body will stop gaining flexibility and won’t get the opportunity to create more stability. However, I now challenge that argument. Because even if I can assume the general shape of the pose, lets say in ardha chandrasana, but in order to get my hand on the floor I sacrifice the alignment say I lose the muscle energy in my standing leg, my top leg might be turn down keeping my pelvis more closed, and my shoulders are rounded on my back. But when I use a block, I get more stable, I can firm my muscles for even greater stability giving me more ability to rotate my leg, hip, torso, head towards the ceiling, and I can extend out from the focal point with a sense of “aww”.

In the example above using the prop was still helping me to get into the general shape of the pose with some alignment. However I still believe in using props at time to refine one of the alignment principles, even if it aids just a small adjust. That small adjustment can make a huge difference. For example, let’s say I can do a perfect parsvotonasana (runners stretch both legs straight). I can even fold down and get my forehead to my shin. I can be doing the 5 Anusara universal principles of alignment in pretty good balance and get my hands on the floor. Yet, if I prop each hand up on a block (my ego might hesitate like “I don’t need blocks for this pose buddy”) I get the ability to adjust my sacrum position with more ease, even if the sacrum moves just a little bit (this is part of pelvic loop). But getting that sacrum to go in and up really benefits the body and ensures that you are gaining flexibility in the hips and legs instead of in the low back which doesn’t need more flexibility in the Charley Chaplin tucked tailbone position.

My stand now is, don’t use props like a cane and if you do try not to get that habit going for long. But do use props if it helps to refine your alignment and your practice. I used to think props were for sitting on and making poses easier. Now I know that props can make you work so much harder it’s just the way you use them.
I looped this into my theme by commenting on how many things in this world we can lean on and use as props. For example prescription drugs can be fabulous and can help your body heal injuries and diseases however if you lean on them to much it because a hindrance and a handicap. You can apply this to anything, the relationships you have, your diet, your behaviors… It is good and healthy when you are refining yourself and the way, in which you behave and serve the world, it is a hindrance if you over lean on it to much and get hooked on the crutch, or get addicted to it, or get lazy…

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Intention and Testimonials

Testimonials & My Intention

My Intention It is my intention as a yoga teacher to help you bring more health and vibrancy to your body, ease and alertness to your mind...