Yoga class is about to start, and you’re gathering props to use during the session. Don’t forget your block! Made from foam, cork, bamboo, or other lightweight materials, these essential props aid in establishing comfort and alignment in certain poses. They also can be used for support when one stays in a pose for an extended length of time. Before you write them off as ‘babyish’ or ‘intrusive’, try the following uses and see if you change your mind.
For certain supported poses, blocks can help you to open your rib cage. While waiting for class to start, for instance, take two and set the first on the low setting, with the other standing high. Lie down, draping your body over the slabs. Settle your shoulder blades on the low block, using the tall one for the back of the head. Drape your arms at your side. Enjoy the gentle back bend and feel your rib cage expand. This is a great supported pose to help open the chest area, particularly during a cold or an asthma episode.
When sitting in Sukhasana, or Easy Seated Pose, check the height of your knees. If they float above your hips, your tight rear end and hip muscles, and possibly those in the lower back as well, will tire quickly while holding this position. The fix? Prop your sit bones up on a block (the lowest setting provides the most area and therefore the most comfort for your sit bones). By ‘raising the floor’ under your derriere, you’ll find your knees pointing towards the ground. By providing a “landing strip” for your hand when twisting, the block can also make twists more comfortable.
Want to spend time in Viparita Karani (“Legs-Up-the-Wall” pose) but don’t have access to a wall? A block makes this pose possible in a crowded class or room. Simply slide it under your hip/sacrum/low back area. It will take a moment for you to fiddle with the fit, but once you find comfort, send your legs up into the air and enjoy your inversion! Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, or Bridge Pose, can be changed from active to restorative in the same way.
Prasarita Padottanasana, or Wide Angle Forward Bend, benefits immensely from the use of a block. If you can’t reach the floor without rounding your back, use a block to raise the floor! It’s nice to start with the slab on the highest level and then lower it as your back and legs stretch into the pose. When your hands reach the ground, try using the block as a resting place for your head.
It’s almost impossible to learn proper alignment for balancing poses without the use of some prop. Placing a block under the hand or hands in Ardha Chandrasana, or Half Moon Pose, for example, helps to take the balance issue out of the equation, allowing you to work on extending the legs and arms first. Combining this with a wall, if available, will help you to strengthen the muscles used in the pose first, which will then make the balance work easier when you are ready for it. This is also true with
All studios will have blocks available; if you’re taking a class at a gym, you might be able to use a set of weights in a pinch – but better yet, suggest that the gym invest in a set or bring your own from home! They can be purchased from almost every sports shop as well as online. Two will set you back between ten and twenty dollars, which will amortize quickly over months of practice.