Yoga blocks are only for beginners! Is it true?
As a Yoga teacher I hear very often: “I bet you are so flexible, you don’t use Yoga blocks”.
The truth is, that I use Yoga blocks, not only as a prop for games in my children Yoga classes, but mostly in my regular yoga practice. It wasn’t love of the first sight. Having a common misconception of a Yoga block, it made me think of being recognised as a beginner in the Yoga studio.
Times and opinions are changing, sometimes the ego too and once I let go of my self-pride and fear of what others might think of me, I became a big fan of this prop.
- To come safely into and out of a posture(Asana).
- To improve your alignment.
- To gain flexibility.
- To let go in Yin Poses.
- To relax during Restorative Poses.
- To improve your balance.
- To build up strength.
- To get ready for the winter season. Read our blog: 7 Poses for Snowboarders/Skiers - soon to come.
#1 Standing Forward Bend(Uttanasana)
1. Stand in Tadasana(Mountain Pose). Inhale, pull your belly in.
2. Hands on hips, exhale and bend forward from your hip joints, not from your waist.
3. Place your hands on your block to create length. Make sure your hips are over heels and your weight is evenly distributed on both feet. With each inhalation, lift and lengthen your front torso slightly; with each exhalation, let go and release any tension.
The block helps you to work safely towards a flat spine.
#2 Reclining Twist Pose(Supta Jathara Parivartanasana)
1. Lying on your back. Bring your right leg up, bend it and hold it for a few breaths, leaving your left leg long below you.
2. Exhale, let your right leg fall towards the left and place the knee on the block. Turn your head to the right, straighten your arms, palms facing down.
#3 Crow Pose (Kakasana)
1. Feet shoulder distance apart, come into squad, press the heels into the ground. Upper body between the knees and lean slightly forward. Upper arms between your knees and hands in praying position.
2. Palms on the block and spread your fingers.
3. Inhale, look in front. Lift your heels and bottom, bend your elbows and let your shin rest on the back of your upper arms.
4. Exhale, walk forward until your elbows are over your wrist. Engage your core, lift one leg after the other or both together from the ground. Find your balance and bring your heels closer to the bottom.
#4 Chaturanga (Four-limbed staff pose)
1. Chaturanga Dandasana is an actual pose, not merely a transition on the way down to the floor. Come onto all fours and place 2 blocks shoulder distance apart. You might have to experiment with using the length or width of the block to determine what works best with your proportions.
Bend your elbows 90 degrees and lower your shoulders heads to the block without resting completely onto the blocks. Keep your legs straight.
Option 1: using the length of the block
Option 2: using the width of the block
Option 3: put your knees down to build the strength necessary to perform Chaturanga Dandasana.
Build up strength by pressing back up an inch or two away from the blocks or completely back up to Plank Pose. Repeat.
#5 Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Using a block to support bridge pose allows a deeper release in the hip flexors.
1.Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet planted flat on the floor, hip-distance apart.
2. Carefully lift your hips off the ground and slide a yoga block directly under your sacrum.
3. Arm remain by your sides, stretched overhead, or straight out in a T-shape.
Depending on your needs, the block can be on its low, medium or high setting.
To come out of the pose, press down into your feet and lift your hips. Remove the block and gently lower back to the floor.
#6 Chair Pose (Uktatasana)
1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place a block on its narrow side between your thighs.
2. Exhale and bend your knees, raise your arms, palms facing inwards, reach your hips down and back as if you were going to sit on the edge of a chair, bringing your weight to the heels of the feet. Make sure your hips are not lower than your knees. Firm your shoulder blades against the back. Keep your lower back long.
3. Squeeze the block and shift weight into the balls of your feet and hold for 6 breaths. Shift weight into the heels of the feet as you draw the lower belly up. Hold for 6 breaths.
I enjoy practising with both blocks depending on the Yoga style.
Preferably the Cork Yoga block in challenging and balancing poses as cork is firm and gives me a solid support. If you sweat a lot, the cork absorbs sweat better than foam, so nothing to worry about accidental slips. For those concerned about the environment, cork is a renewable, biodegradable material, making it a wise, eco-conscious purchase.
If you want a block which matches your mat or outfit, you might go for the cork, as it comes in one colour. Its neutral and goes with everything.
More comfortable with the Foam Yoga block in my Yin or Restorative Yoga practice due to its soft surface. Ideal for carrying to the studio and home or travelling as it is very lightweight. For those who spend too much on shoes this month, the foam block is more affordable.
No matter which Yoga style you practice, or if you are a beginner or seasoned Yogi, everybody will benefit from a Yoga block if used in the right way. Using a yoga block is not a sign of weakness nor does it mean you are not flexible enough. Instead it gives you the possibility to find stability in your posture, it improves alignment and it creates safety in your practice.
Any prop, a Yoga block or a Yoga Wheel, is a great way to move beyond your habitual patterns and once you allow yourself time to experiment, you will experience another level of practice. Give it a try and enjoy!
With MY♡GA Love,