One recent evening, I subbed an all levels vinyasa yoga class for a colleague who is spending a month in India. This teacher’s lineage – Prana Flow Yoga – differs from mine. I’ve taken her class a few times, and noticed that she doesn’t use props, nor does she encourage its use. (Caveat emptor: this is in no way intended to be criticism, just a statement of my observations.) One of the students was a regular attendee of this class. She was clearly disappointed that I was not a Prana Flow teacher.
And she expressed her negative feelings through her behavior in last night’s class. When my vinyasa teachings guided everyone from adho mukha svanasana (downward facing dog) to upavista konasana (wide angle seat), she went into wild thing instead. She did it again when we proceeded through the sequence on the other side.
In this video, skip to 1:20 to understand why deviating from the teacher’s instructions in class is a faux-pas. (NOTE: modifying or doing an easier alternate pose to accommodate a physical issue is not only okay, I encourage it.)
As we progressed from upavista konasana to a variation of parivrtta janu sirsasana (revolved head to knee pose), this student clearly needed a block under her not-quite-grounded forearm. When I brought one to her, she noisily pushed it away, again disrupting the tranquil energy of the class.
Whether you are a brand new beginner or a perpetual beginner (translate: someone who has been practicing yoga for some time and approaches their practice with a beginner’s mind), you know that props are a yogi’s best friend. They provide support. They remove the strain. Yoga means union of opposites, including the balance of sthira (effort) and sukha (ease). Props provide ease in asanas and support your posture for a comfortable meditation session.
So… if you catch yourself balking at the use of a prop, look within to examine the mental and emotional obstacles. Pride? Laziness, as in I don’t feel like coming out of the pose to get the block that is out of my reach? And when you find that your usual class is being covered by another teacher, explore ways to encounter and overcome the sentiments of attachment and aversion that arise.
Use the practice as a good opportunity for self-improvement on a physical, emotional and mental level.
© 2013 Amy Dara Hochberg. All rights reserved.