• Deanne Panday

Boost your workouts using yoga blocks

Yoga provides many props to enhance your ability to express a yoga pose. One of the most popular yoga props to use in class is the yoga block. Made from foam, bamboo, wood or cork, the block is often used as an extension of the arms, but can also support the back, head and hips to help the body settle into a pose. Yoga Blocks aren’t just for beginners; they can be used to develop and even deepen dimensions of yoga practice. It is a common notion that yoga blocks are props to be utilised by beginners to help them overcome their inability in performing an asana and others do not ‘need’ them.

How do yoga blocks help?

Yoga blocks aids you in building your strength, understanding your alignment and improving your postures. These blocks also increases your awareness on muscle movement, especially in hands, legs, hips and shoulders, so you can achieve proper alignment and avoid injuries. The struggle of trying to bring the hands to the floor in standing asanas can be overcome only with practice, one step at a time. So make-up for the distance by using the blocks vertically or horizontally, and avoid the wiggle wobble. Thus, it helps you maintain your balance with tricky poses. This also helps avoid straining hamstrings or curving of the spine and of course helps you ground your feet firmly into the ground and lengthen the spine. Apart from this, blocks can give you the stability and support required to hold the posture, stay calm and breathe; enabling you to hold the posture for a longer duration. For advanced yogis, these blocks serve as a medium to try out different variations to increase the difficulty and explore the asana.

How to use yoga blocks for advanced workouts?

As mentioned above, yoga blocks can help exploring various asanas.

Here’s how you can use yoga blocks to makes your postures more intense:

1. Bridge Pose

Using a block in this pose helps to keep the feet or the legs from splaying out too wide when you press up from the ground. If your legs move out too far to the side, it can place extra stress in the sacral area below the navel, as well as torque the knees.

Place a block lengthwise between the feet and press down evenly through the soles of your feet and lift the hips. Lengthen your tailbone to the backs of the knees and your heart toward your chin. Breathe deeply for 5 inhales and exhales, lower down and repeat twice more.

2. Wheel Pose

Similar to Bridge Pose, placing a block between the thighs prevents the legs from splaying out wide as you lift up into the pose. This also encourages you to use your inner thighs for strength, sacral stability, and for lifting in to your backbend, rather than trying to access the pose by only using your arms.

Place a block on its middle height between your thighs and ground the soles of your feet. Position your hands by the ears with fingertips facing in toward your shoulders. With your elbows stacked over the wrists, press down through the feet, lifting the hips coming up to the crown of your head. Lift up to a full wheel pose.

3. Four limbed staff Pose

From Downward Dog, place a block on its middle height between your thighs. Inhale, shift forward into a high plank position and then forward onto your tiptoes as the heart expands forward. Hugging the elbows in toward the ribs, lower into a low pushup position. Keep squeezing the block and lengthening tailbone to the heels. Inhale, press back up to plank, and exhale back to Downward Dog. Repeat 3-5 times to build strength.

4. Puppy Pose

Puppy Pose is a great way to open your chest, lengthen your spine, and stretch your triceps. These muscles can become tight enough to restrict our range of motion. Adding blocks under your elbows makes the stretch even better, creating space for your chest to melt below the height of your arms.

5. Revolved Half Moon Pose

Beginning with Warrior Pose on the right side, lengthen the front leg and step the back foot in a few inches. Without losing the length of your waist, lower left hand to the outside of your right foot on top of the block. Keeping your right leg extended behind you. Press through the big toe mound of your right leg and lengthen through the crown of your head. Inhale, lengthening through the crown of the head, exhale, twisting from the core and torso. Hold for 5-10 breaths. The block allows for added length, not only in the arms, but also to keep the natural length in your lower back.

Yoga Blocks serve as a great additive to your workout for beginners and well for advanced practice. Enhance your asanas and try out different variations with yoga blocks!

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