Props can be used by anyone, at any stage of their practice, and in any form of yoga. There are so many benefits to having a little extra support in the poses.
Yoga props were originally invented by B.K.S. Iyengar, who began teaching yoga in 1936 in Mysore, India. He sought ways to use objects to prop and support students in the poses, to help them find the proper alignment in order to practice safely. Originally his props were things he found around his home such as bricks, cushions, belts.
Yoga blocks are one of the most useful props for yoga, enabling you to ease into the poses with more confidence, to help you go deeper, explore better alignment and to stay longer in each pose.
Yoga blocks are handy tools because they offer three different height settings (low, medium, high) so you can choose the height you need in each pose.
Integrating yoga blocks into your practice is a great way to gain confidence and comfort in every pose. Here are 5 ways that your yoga blocks can add a sense of play to your practice and help you to get more out of it.
NOTE: these are ideas on how you can integrate blocks into your practice, they are not detailed instructions for each pose.
1 - REACH FURTHER
Some standing poses require you to rest one hand on the floor. And this can be challenging, for any of us. A block literally brings the floor closer to you, so you don’t have to lean so far. I finally conquered Half Moon pose with the help of a block. I used to hate that pose - and now it’s one of my favourites.
Instead of trying to reach all the way to the floor in poses such as Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), Extended Side Angle (Utthita Parsvakonasana) and Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) place your hand on a block instead. It will make the pose easier to do, and give you more stability and confidence. The beauty of the block is that you can adjust the height level, by choosing the side you set it on. These different heights will allow you to work towards getting closer and closer to the floor and to the full pose, if that’s your goal.
The blocks are also really hand for Downward Facing Dog (Adho mukha svanasana) - placing your hands on blocks can make it just that little bit easeful to do.
2 - FIND YOUR BALANCE
If you find standing balancing poses such as Tree Pose (Vriksasana) difficult to do, practice first by stepping up onto a block.
Place the block on the floor on its largest side and then just simply step up onto it and balance on one leg. You can mindfully move your leg forward and back, to see how that affects your balance. This exercise is not only good for your balance, it’s also way to gain mobility and strength in you legs.
Make sure you try this on both sides.
Then move your block out of the way and try your Tree Pose (on the mat of course). You may find it easier to do now that you’ve practiced balancing on the block.
And here’s a fun one…and a great way to practice balance as well as improve your posture.
Place a block on your head (on the largest side) and then slowly and mindfully come down into a squat position (or as far as you can get) and then come back up to standing on tip toes - all the while keeping the block on your head. Try this several times, moving up and down with the block on your head.
3 - IMPROVE SHOULDER MOBILITY
This is a fun and playful challenge that will help you to gain mobility in your shoulders.
It’s about holding a block the open flat palm of your hand, without gripping it, and moving it in a spiral movement around your body. The trick is to keep the block parallel to the floor. You can do the exercise several times on each side, in both directions. It doesn’t matter if you drop the block! Just pick it up and start again. Here is a little video to show you how it’s done.
Don’t forget to do it with both arms.
4 - STRENGTHEN HIPS AND LEGS
You can use your blocks for some subtle but very effective strengthening: pelvic dips. It’s easy to do. Place your block on the mat on its widest side.
Step up onto the block with one foot. Ensure your pelvis is level and your abdominals are engaged.
Next, from this position, with your support leg completely straight, drop your free foot towards the floor in a slow and controlled movement. Don’t let it go so far it touches the mat.
To complete the dip, simply use the hip muscles of your support leg to raise the lowered leg until your pelvis is even.
Do this mindful up and down movement several times on each side, 10-15 or so.
5 - OPEN YOUR HEART
Try a Modified Fish Pose (Matsyasana) supported by two blocks. Use two blocks, one beneath the head and one beneath the shoulder blades. Notice the placement of each block. The one beneath your head should be set at a higher hight so that you rest on a diagonal. Allow your shoulders to relax and your front chest to open up. Your legs can be straight or in Cobblers Pose with knees bent and the souls of your feet together.
You can also use the blocks in this way to raise your bolster for a beautiful Supported Reclining Goddess pose (Supta Baddha Konasana). Modify this pose by raising your bolster on a diagonal using two blocks: choose your most comfortable height, with the one below your head being higher than the one below your shoulders.. This will make it more comfortable as your spine is in a more neutral alignment.
This restful pose allows gravity to create a comfortable hip opening position and gentle stretch to the inner thigh and groin muscles and creates spaciousness across the chest for heart opening.
Be sure to have a look at our Premium Cork Yoga Blocks. They are solid and feel wonderful in your hands, and being made in Portugal of 100% pure, sustainably harvested cork they are a very earth-conscious choice. Our HUM mandalas, engraved on the side, make them extra special and beautiful.
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