To prop or not to prop that is the question. Many schools of yoga believe you should not use props in yoga poses, whereas followers of BKS Iyengar are great advocates of using them.
When he first started writing about yoga in 1958, Iyengar said all that was needed to practice was a mat and a space free from the elements and insects (rough quote). The Iyengar style of teaching now uses props more than any other school of yoga.
Props include blocks, bricks, belts, wall ropes, folded blankets and even chairs. This makes me think that Mr Iyengar has given a lot of thought to the use of props since starting yoga in 1934 and now believes it is necessary for some people to have extra help in some poses.
My own thoughts on this subject is that propping is a good thing. I have yet to find a “one-size-fits-all” school of yoga. Our bodies are so different, yet we are all trying to do the same poses. Sometimes boobs, bums and bellies get in the way; but other common problems such as short hamstrings, back, knee and shoulder issues can all be overcome by using a suitable prop.
Props are there to help us along our yoga journey and, like anything else in life, we can get attached to them and may be reluctant to give them up… Letting go of props when the time is right is a an amazingly liberating experience. Those who need to keep using them need to learn to accept this, which is all part of an individual's yoga journey.
I very rarely use props in my own yoga practice now, except when I am doing restorative yoga. I do, however, use them in some of my classes so that pregnant students and people with injuries can continue to enjoy yoga, albeit with a little help from their prop friends.