The People with Props

I went to a Manouso Manos workshop ages ago in Atlanta and he said something like, “That’s who we are. The people with props.”

Props do seem to be an integral part of the Iyengar system. It is even in the official definition of what makes Iyengar Yoga that we memorize for the Intro I test along with reasons to use props.

Here’s what the Official BKS Iyengar Web page says about Props,
“Iyengar yoga is meant for all and is a way of life. The use of props, designed by Guruji , such as wooden gadgets, belts, ropes helps the practitioner to achieve perfection in any asana.”

It is interesting the official web page says wooden gadgets given the blog post I’m about to write. First of all, wooden gadgets is a good way to describe the range of props in the hall at RIMYI. Gadgets ranging from a simple wooden dowls, wedges, and bricks, to dwi pada benches and tresslers and setu bandha and pavanmuktasana benches and wooden. Not to mention straps and ropes of various lengths, blankets, bolsters, chairs.

I mentioned that in the RIMYI class Gulnaz taught Wednesday we gave up all our props, even the sticky mats because of space issues. Even though Iyengar Yogis are the people with props, there’s also a strong thread in the practice of not using them. Of cautions about becoming too dependent on them. Using them as a crutch, thinking we need them when we don’t, not knowing why we are using them. Here, not following the various rules about their use. No wooden bricks on mats, not putting your full weight on foam bricks, not using the rope wall unless o you are using the rope part of the wall not just the wall part of the wall, not using wall space unnecessarily, not putting feet on blankets, etc, etc, etc.

Gulnaz taught a rather prop-less class on Sunday though at points she did let us us them because we do all have issues.

However, she said we have to watch our mind and language around the use of them.

2.36 satyapratisthayam kriyaphalasrayatvam
When the sadhaka is firmly established in the practice of truth, his words become so potent that whatever he says comes to realization. (I)

When one is established in truthfulness, one ensures the fruition of actions. (B)

The example she gave was our tendency to call a wooden brick a “block.” Gulnaz had a great teaching about that terminology yesterday. She said words are powerful. If we are using a block to help us, really the block is blocking us. It is blocking our progress to the floor in Trikonasana, for example, Think of how the word block affects the mind. We are blocked in our thinking, so anyway, choose the words carefully. Brick, not block. Issue not problems or “insurmountable obstacles.”

She also talked having to choose words carefully in the RIMYI room because there are so many different languages there and how easy it is to be misunderstood in large group contexts. In many ways, learning the language of yoga is like learning another language. We have to learn what words mean in the context and how to apply them to our own learning process.

I think in the US we have a tendency to over prop. One example of this happened to me yesterday doing Adho Muka Virasana (the one in LOY, from actual virasana)

Not the one with your toes together and knees wide.

I was sitting in about my best virasana ever completely on the floor no pain in knee or ankles actually having some semblance of ability of lift the spine up. And was saying to myself, “wow. That’s some progress Then we folded forward, which is super hard for me (I do actually practice this regularly, but with a BLOCK under the buttocks because my buttocks don’t stay on the floor once I go foreward.

So I gave it a try without the brick and had no success keeping buttocks down and so I reached for the prop as I have been taught many times by many different teachers and have done pretty much every time I try the pose. (Okay, I also use blankets and smaller bricks and use a bolster for the torso. I’ve tried a lot of props, but not so much working prop-less. ) She said, “Anne why are you doing that ? The buttocks are already flying off the floor why put something underneath them to keep them there?”

Good question. I do have an answer according to how I’ve been taught, several actually, but did not say any of them in my out loud voice and really was not all that attached to them in my inner voice as I could recognize my way really wasn’t having the desired effect. So, gave her way a try and three or four times later, it was somewhat better and I realized if I practiced without the prop more regularly I would in fact be able to do it from the floor, not like the previous practice is wasted effort (because no effort is wasted) Gulnaz also talked about that yesterday, “Every action counts.” Even what we call the brick.

Looking forward to our last 48 hours in Pune. VIkram will be picking us up at 6:30 AM Wednesday.

Time to get ready for Prashant.

Posted by Anne-Marie Schultz at 5:47 PM

Labels: #Pune2014


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