By Narendra Maheshri
The title, “Yoga Props Are Worthless,” is correct. The following opinions about yoga props are my own. My purpose is not to stir up hostility, but to point out a line of thinking that runs contrary to popular thought in many yoga studios at this time. I also wish to thank Aura Wellness Center for giving me permission to state my side of this issue, which is in opposition to the proliferation of yogic props in classes and fitness centers.
Why do some practitioners feel that yoga props are worthless? As we know, yoga combines physical, mental, and spiritual aspects. The combination of these traits helps us to attain not only flexibility and strength, but also spiritual insight and tranquility. Yogic methodology and its practices have been around for centuries and have been performed by many practitioners. New age yoga usually involves a group of people with an instructor. This new style of yogic methodology, along with props, is not needed.
Figures were found at the Indus Valley Civilization depicting images of men in different positions. Those positions are extremely similar to common practices and poses of yoga that are acted out today. Furthermore, ancient Buddhist writings are probably the earliest texts describing people meditating. Furthermore, these practices existed even before the Buddha. It is important to note that these early practices of what we now know to be commercialized yoga were all acted out in many different places and times.
It is fair to assume that the earliest days of “yog” were done outdoors. No matter what the weather was, people performed yoga without any props involved. There were no mats, there were no blocks, there were no bands; rather there were just simply people with no props. These people used other practices and aspects, such as meditation to overtake them and lead to a very beneficial session. These people were very much in touch with their inner energies and connections, a practice that is sometimes lost in today’s yoga.
Rather than using props, people need to realize what yoga truly is. Too many people focus on the physical aspects of yogic practices. While those are important, they are not the end all of yogic methods; rather mental and spiritual aspects are equally as important but unfortunately overlooked. The entire experience is intended to shape the individual and give the person performing the yoga more balance. Again this balance is not only physical, but it is also mental and spiritual.
One last point to make about why yoga props are worthless. Yoga should be carried out as it was intended to. It was created with focus and energy and was performed in any time and any place. Without distraction props such as mats and blocks people need to get back to performing asana the way it was intended to. Once props are eliminated, the individual will be able to focus on all of the aspects of asana practice that make it what it is and truly bring balance to all parts of his/her life.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
See videos, demonstrations, and lectures for 200 hour yoga instructor certification and specialized continuing education courses.
1 thought on “Yoga Props Are Worthless”
This article is great! Today’s yoga instructors must stay current and educated in their field. And because they encourage students to evolve in their practice, so too must instructors lead by example and embrace changes taking place within yoga practices. But I too believe that modern/western yoga place far too much emphasis on the physical aspects. Where is the “yuj”, or union, between body, mind and spirit when focusing mainly on the physical?
From an instructor standpoint, I’m not opposed to props because they can indeed help a yogi come in to correct alignment, which is of utmost importance to a safe practice. However, I do feel that props can also limit a yoga practitioner’s ability to discover his/her edge naturally and instinctively. It is important to trust and honor the body’s instincts and innate signals of what is safe and feels right. A person’s “edge” will evolve through a committed practice. And with time and patience, the body will grow with more flexibility, strength and openness.
A practice that follows traditional yoga (meditation, opening of the subtle energy centers, pranayama and posturing) plays an important role in the body’s opening. When the mind is clear, spirit strong and heart open, the body too will be healthy, strong and open. Once we stay true to surrendering and releasing the ego’s notion of the perfect pose/body and joyfully accept our limitations, the body itself will then start to open to receiving asanas and eventually grow beautifully into them.
Thank you, Narendra Maheshri, for bringing this to light. It would be great if modern yoga studios and instructors return to the wholistic nature of yoga! After all, true intention, effort and awareness–not props–will yield bountiful results on all levels: body, mind & spirit.