A few weeks ago I began my journey into teaching Prenatal Yoga. I began by quickly, and excitedly, reading the many books that were required of us for our training. The more I read the more I wanted to explore the options within the books, even though I am not pregnant.
One morning I found myself feeling particularly rough. Nonetheless, I got myself up and out of bed and into my practice space. As I began to lift up into my standing poses, I reached for my blocks and placed them in front of me so that I could place my hands on them and really elongate my spine – a supportive idea from prenatal yoga. Rather than feeling the poses more in my lower back and legs, I felt my whole spine expanding towards the crown of my head. I continued to practice and found myself reaching for more and more opportunities to explore my practice with this support, even though on my better days, there was really no need.
I continued to explore this concept within my practice, and even within my classes. Props in physical yoga are something quite unique and amazing. They allow us to remove some awareness from some parts of our bodies, in order to look at others. They help us learn to be met where we are, and also help us access poses that many times are not open to us for many reasons, including age, flexibility, and strength; even though we often our ego will push us past our body. However when we explore with props, even in poses we do not ‘need’ them, we also find a new expression and feeling of the pose that we may not have been able to see before.
With starting each of my classes asking students to open up mentally, emotionally, and physically to the idea of props; I help them remove the idea of an ego when using these wonderful tools. After one such class, even my most flexible students came up to me and remarked how much better and more revitalized they felt in one class of consistent use of props. One student even said, “my back has not felt this good in years!”
Being yogis, we know that the more we explore a concept on our matts, the easier it is for us to expand outward away from the practice space into our own lives. Many times we even come into our practice looking to explore some aspect that we are struggling with in our lives, because we see that space as safe – a space where we can just let go and explore without any judgments from others or ourselves.
As I explored props more in my practice, I also found myself outside of my physical practice, more able to speak up and ask for support. I have always been a rather self sufficient person, however with more and more demands upon my time and intellect, I was also looking for more opportunities to reduce the stress and some responsibilities.
The ability to ask for help, can be difficult for many people. Some find it to be a mark against them, while others look at it as a path to dependency. However if we surround ourselves with loving people, neither of these can come to manifest; because they are more than willing to help us out, as much as we are willing to help them out.
Further understanding our own understanding of support systems, and safety nets, can help us clarify our own boundaries with others. Often the hardest part of setting boundaries is our misunderstandings of our own definitions. It is hard to understand when someone is overstepping a boundary when you are unclear of its location. By exploring our own definitions of support and help we are more able to mark clear and respectable boundaries for others as to how much we are able to help them.
Yoga as a physical practice can be so much more than just a daily sequencing of poses. One such aspect we can explore within our practice space, that can directly effect our outside world, is our understandings and use of props. By understanding what it physically feels like to be supported, we can begin to understand what it likes to feel emotionally and mentally supported.
Practice in Peace and Love ❤