Using Props and Modifications to “Go Deeper”

What does it mean to “go deeper” into a pose?  Alison Hammond Castro, a certified Forrest Yoga teacher, challenges you to connect with your perception of “going deeper” and to find this sensation in your body.

“Using yoga props doesn’t make you a yoga wuss, it makes you smart.” Ana Forrest

I recently attended a big workshop taught by a big name yoga teacher.  There were a lot of people who came out to absorb the teachings and practice yoga.  As I was practicing, I heard the teacher say “to go deeper,” and then a cue to bring your hand onto the outside of your foot, or block into an extended twisting warrior form. I went there for a second, then I pulled back out.

One of the understood pillars of Forrest Yoga is “going deeper.”  This can mean many things to different people.  As teachers, we can tell students over and over again to use the yoga props.  As students, we often criticize ourselves for “giving in” and using props.  The funny thing is that using props actually helps us to go deeper.

Let’s go back to the big yoga class I attended this weekend.  When I eased my way down to put my hand onto the block on the outside of my foot, I felt all cramped up and could barely reach the block.  I was all twisted in on myself, my hip felt locked up, and I couldn’t get a good breath.  I was still using my block, and I could argue that I was going deeper.  But in my heart I knew that this was not the true meaning of deeper for me.  I pulled out and rested my forearm on my thigh, still twisting, and I relaxed my neck.  I started getting full breaths throughout the core and incrementally twisted more and opened my chest toward the sky feeling spacious and strong.

For me, on a physical level going deeper means feeling the yoga pose in the way that activates the energy lines and musculature to get closest to the form of each pose in a way that allows us to breathe space into our bodies, build strength and gain flexibility.  When we are resistant to using props or down leveling poses, we struggle to make the form of the pose look like what the teacher wants, but inside we feel nothing of what the pose is meant to be. 

We must let go of what we think “going deeper” means in our mind, and search inside our body for what it means to us personally.  This remains one of the most important challenges for a yoga student, and it requires being in touch with our inner critic and wisdom. 

Are you ready to go deeper?  Grab your props and lets go!

Alison Hammond Castro is a certified Forrest Yoga teacher currently living in the Philadelphia area. She teaches at Simply Yoga in Eagleview, PA and privately in her home. Learn more about Alison and her teaching by visiting her website, or connect with her on FacebookAlison earnestly upholds the four pillars of Forrest Yoga: breath, strength, integrity, and spirit. Her classes emphasize spreading breath throughout the body, smart alignment, strength, flexibility, and body awareness. She intuitively provides effective hand-on adjustments to help students gain a deeper understanding of their own bodies and habits both on and off the mat. Alison loves redwood trees and misses the Berkeley hills, but was pleasantly surprised when she arrived in Philadelphia.

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