The Stories Behind the Props:

In the olden days, the yogis did yoga in their ashram which used to be located in the forest area and called it a vana aranya. The yogis made use of the tree branches and the thick trunk. They used to tie ropes to the tree branches and hang/curve on it. They would make a platform of dead tree trunks, a pillow ouf of leaves and used them as "props".

Guruji (a scientist and inventor of props) introduced tradition in a modern way. For example, the rishis and sanyasis used to have a "yoga danda" - a stick having a U shape used to rest the upper arm. This helped them rest while supporting them to keep their spine erect. This same idea is being used by Guruji while doing the standing asanas on a trestle, grill, or a balcony where the arm is supported and the spine is lifted.


The Trestle, Horse or "Pune Pony"

Guruji had a pupil who was a horse trainer and he had a trestle like structure on which he used to train. Guruji used this for support when he had a pupil with a deformity.


The Wall

Many women who wished to learn from Guruji were unaccustomed to any form of exercises. They found it very difficult to even move their bodies or balance. In addition, they were shy which made them contract their bodies even further. There were also people afflicted with polio, the aged, and those who had been paralysed who all sought Guruji's help. He started by making his students to do work against the wall.


The Ropes

The ropes were being used by Guruji's Guru, Sri T. Krishnamacharya and he in turn had been introduced to them by his Guru. Performing asanas on the rope is called Yoga Kurunta. (Kurunta means puppet.) Guruji worked on them a little more and developed many more uses for the ropes.


Viparitadandasana Bench

Guruji started with a photography session where the owner had an arched banch (inverted U) on which he would ask his customers to sit when being photographed. One day a girl came in and was asked to pose on it. When the girl was done, Guruji sat on the bench, curved his back over it and stretched out. He thought it was wonderful and he created the back bender bench. This is now used by all healthy, unhealthy, and aged to stretch out. the shape was later modified to meet updated requirements.


The Stump

Guruji would use his head, hands, legs, knees, feet, toes, back and abdomen as a prop while teaching. For example, he would support the back of the chest and buttocks with his hands, as these are the two vital areas which need support in the back bending postures. This would halp any body aches as well as correct the posture. He visualized two kinds of the stump to support the neck/chest and the sacrum.

Viparitadandasana Plank

The elbows and feet tend to slip while performing Viparitadandasana. So, Guruji would support the elbows and the feet with his toes. This support would give a lot of courage and freedom to the practitioner. The plank was made to prevent the elbows and toes from slipping.


The chair was not a part of the furniture in the home. People sat on the floor on a "chatai" - a mat which would be spread out. It was only when Guruji started writing Light on Yoga in 1960 did he get a writing table and chsir, and he started using the chair for Viparitadandasana and Purvottanasana.

Setubandha Sarvangasana Bench

In the early days, Guruji would support each student on his knee for 5 mins for Setubandha Sarvangasana. You can imagine the strain on the teacher. He then started using rolled cotton bed mattresses, blankets, and finally the bench was devised.

Straps and Belts

Guruji used his own hands and legs as clippers or callipers. Later, the belts were designed.

Half Halasana Box

Guruji used ot have a big wooden trunck which stored woollens for winter. he started using that for Halasana and soon after the box idea struck him.

Blankets and Bricks

Guruji used to manipulate the different spots where the sutdents would collapse such as the sternum, the navel, bladder etc. Now there are many shapes and sizes of bricks and blankets which are rolled and folded in various ways to give the best support.

Simhasana Bench and Slanting Plank

A "Simhasana" bench represents a throne on thich the chest is majestically placed. It is like a throne for the soul. Even the slanting plank when adjusted properly opens out the chest "royally".


"Words fail to convey the total value of Yoga. It has to be experienced."
B.K.S. Iyengar

Quotes taken from "IYENGAR: His Life and His Work" (Timeless Books 1987)


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