Props are not a crutch; rather, they are useful and fun learning tools.
“A prop is not something to progress away from, but something to learn to take advantage of creatively during practice,” said Valerie Moselle, a co-founder of Luma Yoga in Santa Cruz, California.
Knowing how to care for and use them creatively can be a big benefit to your students. One of the keys with using props is to make sure you have enough for everyone to utilize in a full class. Multiple props are used at Luma:
- Cork yoga blocks for durability.
- Straps, blankets, folding chairs and bolsters.
- Extra props include wedges, half blocks (2.5 inches thick), three-minute eggs, eye pillows, sand bags and a yoga wheel.
Providence Power Yoga in Rhode Island has many similar props. JoEllen Hockenbrough, the owner of the studio, shared they also have foam blocks, dowels, resistance bands, foam rollers, small balls and large Pilates balls. Her decision on what to purchase comes back to what her teachers would like to introduce. “Many of our teachers take advantage of continuing education, and their favorite workshops and trainings to attend are those that provide more instruction on how to use props,” she said. “We encourage students to use props in every class.”
Props allow for students to find better alignment, or to go deeper into a pose. Providence Power Yoga holds workshops, called Prop-a-Palooza, during the year to teach students how to use props. Hockenbrough said they are very popular. In fact, the studio focuses on a pose each week and teachers are encouraged to teach it using props. “We want everyone to feel successful in class, and props are a way to make that happen,” she said.
One way Luma Yoga has become creative with its props is using blankets on the slippery wood floor. This, shared Moselle, engages muscles in more pulling motions and via stabilizing effects. It challenges the body in new ways.
Another challenge at Luma is educating members about mats, as the studio tries to buy only eco-friendly props, namely from JadeYoga and Manduka. Not only do both companies make exceptional products that last, but they are working toward sustainability as well. Plus, Moselle said JadeYoga offers ways to recycle and reuse old yoga mats.
However, with a community that likes a lower price-point, Moselle said it can be a challenge that they don’t carry the cheaper, disposable yoga products. But, what it takes is a bit of education. “We opt instead to educate our clients about why we carry the mats and other props we carry, and how to choose a product that will last for years, but doesn’t harm the environment,” she said.
For Hockenbrough, purchasing props is also an investment, so they don’t skimp on them.
Providence Power Yoga uses Manduka studio gear foam blocks, as well as Yoga Accessories for bolsters, blankets and straps.
In the end, your props are for your students and help create the best experience possible. Make sure your students understand they are a lifetime tool, not just a beginner’s crutch. “A prop is not something to progress away from, but something to learn to take advantage of creatively during practice,” said Moselle. “If teachers only get out props when the student is struggling, the message everyone in the class gets is that props are a symbol of an inferior practice.”
Image courtesy of katherinebreewalker.com.