How to Use PropsSuzanne Deason
Year Released: 2000
Categories: Instructional / How To Videos
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This is a little tape that Living Arts put out a while back to explain how to use yoga props to enhance your yoga workout. It is pretty cheap to pick up and, if you are not that flexible yet but want to do yoga, this is a really good tape to pick up. It explains really well how to use yoga props like a mat, strap and block to enhance your yoga practice and improve your form.
Now - this might seem like a tape that you would use once and then get rid of because you will have learned it all, but I find I keep it around for the 10 minute, prop-assisted workout at the end of the lesson. This is led by Suzanne Deason and is a really nice little workout to get you used to working with the props and becoming more comfortable at incorporating the props into other yoga workouts.
If you have been wanting to get the benefits of yoga, even if you feel you can't do it yet, this tape will help you learn how to listen to your body and know when to use a prop. I have been doing Yoga for two years and I know that it is because of this video that my yoga practice got better because I now know that I wasn't getting the benefits I could by straining ahead of my abilities.
This tape is a bit unusual in that it is not entirely a workout tape. Suzanne Deason offers a 15-minute lesson (read: lecture) in how to use props for yoga, with overlays of her (and a student) demonstrating various key points. Then she leads a very brief routine to allow an opportunity to practice what she's just shown us.
There are good points and there are bad points here. Suzanne does give very thorough explanations regarding use of the brick, for example. But the poses she picks to demonstrate are very advanced. Even with the brick, I still could not achieve perfect form. In her explanation on the strap, she gives a very good rundown on how it can help with forward bends where the leg is stretched out on front and you reach toward the toes. This explanation made a huge difference for me as I realized I had not been flexing my foot properly. But she segues from this into a "cobbler's pose" that involved wrapping the strap around you at at least three different points and then leaning back. Number one: why would a beginner bother with such a convoluted modification? Wouldn't a beginner just use different poses? And number 2, this tape is meant to help a beginner modify other living arts tapes. Putting a brick at the side of your mat is one thing, but pausing a tape to wrap the strap around you in such a complicated manner? How many beginners would do that? As for the mat, pretty much all the "help" Suzanne gives is the opinion that a mat provides padding on a hard surface, a barrier against the cold floor and a non-slip surface. All of which may be true but is a) likely printed on the wrapper your mat came in, hence, you already know it or b) obvious to anybody with a little bit of common sense.
The "workout" is a brief run-through of several challenging poses, some of which were previously demonstrated in the talk. It includes downward dog, triangle pose, warrior pose (the easiest of the bunch), standing forward bend, seated forward bend and cobbler pose. The poses clearly demonstrate the use of the props and since Suzanne actually does it herself, you won't have to pause the tape as you would for a normal workout. But I remain confused as to whether this tape is geared toward newcomers to yoga (who probably should not be attempting some of these poses right away) or yoga intermediates ready to move to harder poses and needing a boost from the props. Maybe it just seems harder because she's stringing together a 15-minute series of poses that are all advanced enough to need modifying in the first place. In a regular yoga tape, I doubt these particular poses would be done in sequence like this.
Suzanne is a competent instructor, but very teachery. At first, she demonstrates the poses herself. But after a few minutes, she brings out a student of hers and runs her through a few poses. She carefully points out all the form mistakes her student makes, then runs her through it again with the props, pointing out the difference. Depending on how you read her tone of voice, this demonstration is either diligently thorough or condescendingly demeaning. I thought I would appreciate this tape for its short, props-based workout, but I was surprised to find I enjoyed the lesson more. I'll probably keep this tape around for a reference and go through the lesson again from time to time. But the odd collection of poses in the workout doesn't seem like the best way to use this tape.