Why You Shouldn’t Be Embarrassed About Using Props In Yoga
For a long time, I would begin every yoga class by rolling out my mat, planting myself in sukhasana on the floor, and waiting for the teacher to start. I wouldn’t sit on a blanket to lift my hips. I would never take a bolster. And I certainly wouldn’t be seen with blocks.
Blocks are for beginners.
But as my practice has deepened as a student and I’ve expanded into teaching, I’ve come to see that refusing props—rather than accepting them—is what made me a novice.
Too often, we have this conception that using props means our practice is weak. And we internalize this to mean we are weak. Sometimes teachers will even embody this in their language, saying, “If you can’t reach the floor, use a block.” Or “If you can’t grab your foot, use a strap.”
This is the wrong message. Using props has nothing to do with not being flexible enough, strong enough, or good enough.
I’ve recently begun teaching restorative yoga, a practice that relies full-heartedly on bolsters and blocks and blankets. It was a class I never imagined myself teaching or even taking—“too soft,” “too slow” is the story I told myself about restorative yoga.
But life often surprises us, bringing us what we need even when we don’t know it. I’ve fallen in love with teaching restorative yoga.
I love the experience of supporting students in finding each pose, in helping them set themselves up with the props that best support their bodies, uniquely. I love covering them with blankets and holding space for long pauses of silence and depth. And, mostly, I love to hear students ask for what they need.
As I circle the room, checking in with each student as they move into new postures, I feel the power of their voices—the way they listen to their bodies and aren’t afraid to ask me for an additional bolster, another block. They trust the experience of what supports them.
This is self-love.
So, now, I begin most restorative classes with a reminder: ask for what your body calls for.
Because, the truth is, yoga—all yoga—is not just about our practice on the mat but, most importantly, the way we live our yoga off the mat.
When we choose props in yoga, we are not weak. It is the one who refuses what may lift them up who is.
When we feel supported in yoga, letting blocks and bolsters and blankets hold us, this feeling effortlessly translates into our lives: we come to feel we are supported, not just on our mats but in our lives. We begin to trust the unfolding of our existence.
And props encourage us to go deeper. When we rest our hands on a block, we can relax into the pose, opening more. When we feel ourselves supported, we can go deeper—into our bodies and into our hearts.
Props allow us to embody the niyama svadhyaya, or self-study. They invite us truly to tune in to our bodies and listen to what they need—to feel the unique shape, structure, and desires of our body on any given day.
And they offer us a sense of stability: we are rooted. We are supported. We are safe.
This doesn’t mean you must use a prop. It simply invites you to listen: when will a prop serve you? What do you need in this moment?
In life, we are stronger when we call on all that may support us—when we ask for help, when we lean on community, when we surrender to the earth beneath our feet. Props are a metaphor for life: it is always okay to nourish yourself with what you need.
Never be afraid to ask for what uplifts you.
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