On Yoga Props

Props, props, props.

The props we use in Iyengar yoga classes in England are a little different than what is typical in the US, mostly because teachers (in my area at least) are not teaching in equipped studios. Instead the students bring all of their own props to each class which are held in a wide variety of settings: community centers, hotels, schools, gyms, church halls, etc. Most students bring one blanket, one belt, 2 bricks, and 4-6 foam blocks (not to be confused with bricks) that when put in a 2 x 2 grid make a shoulderstand lift. The foam blocks are much lighter and more compact to haul around than blankets. I purchased a special yoga prop bag into which I can easily fit my props and my kindle. I only bring my bolster if I know we’re doing pranayama. (I can mimic a bolster with my foam blocks and a blanket for most things.) Some venues have folding chairs, but they aren’t modified for yoga. All of this means that the class content is shaped somewhat by what props we have at hand.

Though there are downsides to this arrangement, I believe there are some positive aspects as well: 1.) Classes are held all over town. Within a 5 mile radius there are loads and loads of different locations with a variety of teachers; 2.) Teachers are more easily able to start new classes in new communities since the initial cost of props isn’t a factor; 3.) Students here invest (literally) in their own practice. They have to not only pay for classes, but also for the equipment; 4.) Students have everything on hand at home, and perhaps are more likely begin practicing independently earlier on; and 5.) Nobody takes a well-equipped studio for granted.

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