The history of Iyengar yoga props and its benefits:
“For me, prop is not only for the asana. It should contribute to the position of the body which in turn can let the mind be calm and state of “Chitta Vritti Nirodha” be experienced. Body is my first prop. The body is a prop to the soul.”- B.K.S Iyengar.
Bellur Krishnamachar Sundararaja Iyengarpopularly known as B.K.S Iyengar is the founder of ‘Iyengar yoga’. This form of yoga is practised as a tool for attaining therapeutic and non-surgical treatments of the body.By focusing on precise body alignment in a yogasana with the usage ofversatile yoga props one can safeguard themselves from physical injuries, obesity and inflammatory diseases.
Iyengar guruji started his journey as a teenager. His yoga guru cum brother in law-Tirumalai Krishnamacharya initiated him to start practising yoga in Mysore along with another famous yoga master of modern times, PattabhiJois.
After learning from his master, Iyengar went to Pune, Maharashtra to start his well-renowned yoga institute named after his wife; Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute, Pune.
The invention of yoga props ?
It was in 1937 when Iyengar was teaching yoga to the 85 year old principal of Fergusson College, Pune that he invented his first yoga prop which was a wooden rod. Due to age limitations,the principal was unable to perform even standing poses rightly. Hence, to keep his legs stable and away from each other, Iyengar used a wooden rod between his legs so that he could attempt simple standing postures like Trikonasana and Parsvakonasana.
Since then Iyengar started using his domestic furniture and household items to help his students reap the maximum benefit of any asanaeffortlessly. Later on with the help of various doctors and engineers,guruji scientifically developed yoga props. This discovery made yoga asanas available for all irrespective of age and physical fitness which was otherwisetaught only to royal families and warriors in the ancient times.
How are yoga props useful?
All of us have different body types. An asana which is suitable for one perhaps would be inappropriate for the other. By looking at YouTube videos or Instagram reels and IGTV’s we think can we can do yoga postures easily and save that cost of going to a yoga class, don’t we? But hey! What about right alignment? What about body limitations? What about body injuries? All this is forgotten and ignored and we just want to show the world—look what I can do! Deep down in our unconscious states there is a desire for getting quick results in a short frame of time. However, I want to ask you, has any short term results sustained for a long period of time? In my opinion, No.
Yoga aims to bring molecular, cellular and structural changes in your body and mind. To bring about these changes, a yoga sadhaka needs to have immense patience, constancy and sincerity. Anything done for achieving quick results will be short lived, injurious, destructive and harmful for the body and mind.
The discovery and usage of yoga props not only helps people to perform the poses effortlessly but also prevents injuries of the body by emphasising on correct alignment along withdifferent modifications of the poses accordingly .
“Alignment is intelligence applied to yourasana practice”
Flexibility of the muscles and tendons cannot occur so easily. The body takes time to open up. One needs to be constant and dedicated towards spending significant amount of time in order to have mastery over the asana. For example- if you are a beginner and wanting to improve hamstring flexibility, you need to do simple forward flexion poses of the spine like Uttanasana, Paschiomottasana using a yoga belt. Place the belt under the arch of your feet, holding it from either sides of your foot and buttocks touching the wall for at least 3-5 minutes daily for the results to show.
According to my experience, performing any asana without props would initially increase pain, discomfort and misalignment of postures. With the usage of various props under right guidance one can have reduced pain and direct the musculoskeletal system towards correct alignment. For instance to get relief from common lower back pains a yoga prop like Viparita Dandasanabox can a work as great quick fix.
With the use of various props one can progress in their asana practice. There are special crafted props for each asana. If you have fear in doing headstand but still are determined to practice inversions then, Sirsasanaropescan help you to reduce the fear complexity and give you a sense of physical as well as mental security. If you want practice Salamba Sarvangasana; supported shoulder stand a yoga chair is one of the most reliable tool for mastering this pose.
Props can possibly ease all the asanas and makes yoga doable and available for all irrespective of age and physical fitness. The usage of multi-functionalyoga props work as a great tool for attaining therapeutic benefits of the body. By establishing correct postural alignment and comfort in a particular asana, a yogi can integrate his consciousness for physical and spiritual wellness which in turn is the crux of yog sadhana and eastern philosophy.