Using Props in Yin Yoga

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Using Props in Yin Yoga

Post by Bernie »

I recently received the following email:

  • Hey Bernie,

    I'm leading a Yin Yoga intensive the next three weeks. We're reading YinSights as a requirement for this intensive, as I've read your book several times, and love it!

    Anyway, I had a Yin Question. I've heard Yin Yoga originally wasn't designed to be a prop based practice, do you have any insight as to why? My only understanding would be we're not allowing our body to go to its depth, on the other side - we want to set all our students up for success, so props are necessary for some.


You have raised several points: let me try to answer them in order

1) I am glad that you are using YinSights as your base text, however, YinSights is out of print now, which means your students won’t be able to find a hard copy (or will have to pay crazy prices at Amazon for someone else’s copy). But!, did you know that you can download the PDF version of YinSights from my website. Also, the other option is to read YinSights online here. On the other hand, you could buy the new version! My new book is called The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga. The differences are explained here.

2) Did the original Yin Yoga use props? Well, what do we mean by “original Yin?” [For more on “Original Yin” and where Yin Yoga came from, you may want to read this thread.] We can surmise that all Hatha yoga throughout its earliest history was done prop-less (if that’s a word.) There are no props mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika! B.K.S. Iyengar is generally given credit for promoting the use of props in Hatha Yoga. While he was certainly not the first to do so, he was the one that make the use of props fashionable and widely acceptable. In his book, Light on Yoga, however, he doesn’t show props, but he does show several Yin Yoga poses. So, yes - we could say that originally yoga (and Yin Yoga) did not use props. But this certainly doesn’t mean yoga students do not benefit from the use of props. They do! The use of props is a positive evolution forward in the practice of yoga, not a step backwards.

3) There are many benefits of using props in Yin Yoga. This article discusses 6 ways props can help us in our yoga practice:

  • To increase stress in desired areas
    To decrease stress in undesired areas
    To create length and space
    To make certain positions available/accessible
    To provide support: when the bones feel supported, the muscles can release
    To increase comfort: which means longer stays in the postures
With the article is a video you and your students may find helpful. The article also describe different types of props, from the common to the sublime. Check it out!

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