It's All About Support
Support is key to any practice.
When I first started my yoga practice, though, I wasn't one for props. My first classes were at a community center and the only props available were the blocks the teacher brought. I always took 2 upon entering the room as instructed, but during the course of my practice I never reached for them. I always waited to be instructed to use one, either verbally or physically (such as the teacher placing the block where I needed it).
At first I think I was a mixture of confused and embarrassed by them. Being referred to as a "prop" -- something to prop you up -- I think I saw them as a sign of weakness, something that let everyone in the room know I was a beginner and not that adept at my practice. Oh, how wrong I was! The more my teacher encouraged me to use blocks the more I discovered how freeing they could be. They weren't just something to fill the space when your hands don't touch the floor. They create space, allowing the breath to flow freely. They allow for the engagement of muscles that might not otherwise be engaged, like the inner thighs during bridge pose. They fill the space during a restorative practice, allowing one to experience the pose without gripping and tension.
Over the years I would explain this to my husband, demonstrating poses and explaining how various props would allow me to find a deeper expression of those pose. And over the years he has gifted me with a new mat, a bag that holds two mats and a set of blocks, foam blocks, cork blocks, a strap, and just this past Christmas a bolster.
Clean up after class in the studio can take a few minutes with all the props to put away. I am in a place in my practice that I know when to reach for a prop whether instructed to or not. The props aren't holding me back; they're allowing me to grow. And with that knowledge I have come to the realization that I have the ultimate prop, the ultimate support: my husband.
All we knew about yoga when I started this journey four years ago was that it's good for stress relief. And man, was I in need of relief! Years later, though, I have come to think of yoga practice as a circle. We all come into it for different reasons, but if you open yourself up to it you will travel around the circle and experience all of the benefits yoga has to offer. And while yoga is definitely a personal journey, having a friend to go to class with can be motivating and maybe even remove some of the fear and intimidation from starting a practice. I did not have a friend to go to class with, but I had my husband's full and unwavering support. And I can honestly say I wouldn't be here four years later without him. He has listened to me, watched our son so I could go to class, provided me with props and books to expand my knowledge and practice, and has been willing to cut back on his meat intake with me. (A big deal for a "meat and potatoes" guy!)
My practice on the mat may be a solo journey, but my off the mat we are a team.
I am a very fortunate woman.