Yoga in the United States has really evolved since I began learning it as a high school student. Yoga "props" such as yoga wedges, blocks, balls, bands, and straps just didn't exist then or at least not in great quantity. Just open a yoga products catalog these days and you can select from numerous colorful and sometimes pricey props. Yoga props were developed by yoga teachers such as B.K. Iyengar, who noticed the challenges that yoga novices have in achieving certain postures. Starting out with limited flexibility can be discouraging. If you feel that using yoga props will motivate you to keep maintain a daily practice - all the power to you then! They are promoted as adding versatility to your yoga practice and enhancing support and length for different poses. In my opinion, however, they are not essential. The only investment I have made in my yoga practice is a good yoga mat and comfortable clothing. And, yes, I also a yoga eye pad for days I feel I need to enhance the relaxation pose that concludes my yoga sessions. As I have shared in earlier posts, consistent practice aimed at progressing incrementally and gradually is a principal key to mastering gentle hatha yoga. I have never used props (and I am probably too uncoordinated to do so properly!) because I just relied on gravity to gradually help elongate and stretch the muscles needed to master certain poses. And, I have to admit, I still can't do all poses all the time, particularly when I first wake up and my body is still shaking off its sleepiness. (Although yoga is a wonderful way to wake up!) As clearly laid out in one of the first yoga books I ever bought, as you continue your practice, your body will stretch and ease its way naturally into the poses. A year ago when I re-started the backward hand clasp, I experienced some discomfort and my two hands could not connect behind my back on my left side. I wondered if I could every achieve that connection. Sure enough, within about 6 weeks, I did! Now, if I don't really think about it, I forget which side I had difficulty with. In yoga, consistent practice over time plus gravity are your allies along with attention to proper form. Do you need props? Not really. I like to keep things as simple as possible. But, use whatever you need to keep your practice consistent.
Yoga Quote of the Day: "Be relaxed always with yoga." Eugene Rawls & Eve Diskin