I have recently read several blogs, facebook posts, and emails regarding props in a yoga class. One that I found particularly interesting was written by a fairly new yoga teacher who was very much pro using props in her class. In fact I would wager that she may have stock in a yoga block company with the determination she seemed to have in making sure all of her students had and used them.
I was taught by a lovely woman from Bangalore. In traditional style, I sat at her feet (literally and figuratively) for two years. I followed her every move, I went to almost all of the classes she taught (missing only the ones that were during the time I had a 'real job'), I did her bidding, and I listened, with great love and respect, to every word that came out of her mouth.
She taught me so much about taking care of the body and making sure that when it came to doing yoga poses, that they were done with ease and comfort. Letting the body do what the body can do, and not worrying about the poses that the body cannot do. That yoga should be able to be done any where, any time.
Although props do allow the body to get into poses in a way we may not be able to do them otherwise, props should not be something we depend on nor should it be something a yoga instructor should push on a student. Instead, adjust the pose, configure the pose so that it conforms to the body attempting to do it. Don't become dependent on props to do what you want to do. How can the practice you love, truly be yours, if you cannot bring it with you everywhere you go?
I for one love the ocean. I have been blessed to travel to some of the most amazing places on this earth to see the ocean as others see it from their part of the world. I refuse to leave my yoga practice behind and yet I also refuse to pay for extra baggage just so I can have two blocks, a mat, a blanket a bolster, etc. I do what I can do, where I am, with just my body.
Now that being said if you have physical issues and a block or a blanket strategically placed can help you be more comfortable then use it. I am talking more along the lines of using a prop to get you into a 'text book' version of a pose than what your body can do naturally if you simply make some changes to fit you.
I know I am also just a child in the world of yoga. But I also know that the Sutras tell us that our yoga practice should be steady and comfortable. Comfortable in my mind means not beyond your natural, physical comfort zone so, adjust that pose so that you body can do a version of it with the ease and comfort. Listen to your body. Know your body. Be kind to your body.