Props; what do I do with them?
Why do we have straps, blocks, blankets, pillows, bolsters, wheels and all manner of paraphernalia in a yoga practice? Is a mat not enough? This stems from the school of Iyengar yoga and using props can have a tremendous effect on our practice.
As a young boy, B K S Iyengar went to study with his brother-in-law, Krishnamacarya in Mysore, India in the hope that it would improve his ill-health. However, he found the fast-paced, energetic Ashtanga practice was difficult for him to keep up with in terms of his physical ability and began to draw his focus to the correct alignment of his body, using whatever was to hand to help him move into the asana; bits of rope, bricks, walls or chairs.
Using props in your practice may only alter your position slightly but can make a massive difference to your being able to feel the posture with correct alignment. Using a prop can help you have an idea of how the correct alignment feels and you may be able to work towards feeling the same without the prop, or you may be happier to continue using it. It's your practice so you must do what feels right for your body.
I often have a few props with me but if you have a regular practice, it might be a good thing for you to invest in your own, especially if you like to practice at home. The props I mentioned above are readily available even in supermarkets, but you can also improvise by rolling up the end of your yoga mat to elevate your hips, sitting on a couple of books (I'm all for technology but sorry, sitting on a Kindle just won't cut the mustard) or even using a towel, a sock or a pair of tights in place of a strap. You really can play around with it. I'm always happy if you wanted to ask about a prop in a specific pose and if ever I'm unsure as well, I can do some more homework and get back to you.