"Props are wisdom, not weakness"
I heard this recently and it deeply resonated. I'm someone who is naturally flexible, and most of the yoga asanas come easily for me.
But certain shapes, in the way I was practicing them under dogmatic systems, wasn't supportive or sustainable for me. It's not fun to be a yoga teacher and have pain when doing yoga!
It was easy to make the internal switch, because intuitively I knew that I needed support. Although I still feel the eyes on me when I take a studio class and have a mountain of props beside me.
In the book, Yoga the Path to Holistic Health, BKS Iyengar says,
"The practice of asana requires us to be in good mental and physical condition. Yet, even those of us in the best health will find some asanas difficult to sustain or too complex to attempt without help. It is for this reason that we use props in our yoga practice.
Props make the practice of asana easier, less tiring and more enjoyable; therefore, making each asana more accessible to all yoga students - no matter their age or experience.
Props are a valuable resource when it comes to our practice. Props help retain key movements and subtle adjustments of the body by providing more height, weight, or support. By utilizing props in your practice, you get a unique experience of simultaneous action and relaxation. Props provide a sense of direction and alignment, and help increase and enhance the understanding of each asana. Think of them as your silent instructors."
You don't have to spend a ton of money to have good props. Many discount stores carry good quality yoga supplies. Most big box stores even carry a few yoga items that are great options.
Many props can be found with items you already have around your home. You may substitute yoga blocks with a few stacked books, replace a bolster with a throw pillow, and a broomstick for a rod. When practicing with props, what is most important is to use them in a way that is most suitable for you.
Here's a short list of common yoga props to have as you develop your home yoga practice:
Chair / Wooden bench / Stool
Bolster / Pillow / Poufs
The main purpose is that you should feel comfortable and relaxed when practicing poses.