Yoga blocks can look intimidating. After all, do you need to buy a pair to practice yoga, and what are they even used for? For the skeptic yogis, I’m here to clear up any confusion. Yoga blocks serve a fundamental purpose and help you in your practice vastly more than one might think. The article will explore the benefits of using a block during your regular routine, explaining what issues they solve and how they can help with postures that might have felt impossible before.
- Yoga blocks are used as props in yoga practice to help support and modify postures.
- They are typically made of foam or cork and come in different sizes and shapes.
- The blocks can be used as an extension of the hands or feet, to deepen a stretch, or to provide stability in balancing poses.
- They also help to make yoga more accessible for people of all levels, including beginners, who may have difficulty reaching the floor or maintaining proper alignment in certain postures.
- By using yoga blocks, practitioners can safely and comfortably move into postures, allowing for a deeper and more effective practice.
What Are Yoga Blocks?
These apparatuses are some of the most critical pieces of equipment for yoga practice, as they provide support and stability in your session. Not only can they be used when on the ground, but they can also be used during standing and seated poses to help with alignment and to ensure proper body placement.
Blocks come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and colors, not only providing aesthetic benefits but also providing genuine benefits. Generally speaking, there are three types of materials used:
- Those that are made from foam or cork
- Those that are made from wood
- Those made with plastic (isn’t everything nowadays, unfortunately)
Foam and cork blocks tend to be softer and lighter than wooden blocks; however, wooden options have a more solid feel underfoot which is excellent for balancing poses. Additionally, there are plastic blocks that, although we are all trying to limit our plastic use, tend to be more affordable for those just starting out.
If you’re new to using these blocks, you might find it best to start with a softer foam or cork yoga block. More advanced practitioners might opt for a firm wooden or bamboo block with or without handles. No matter which you choose, don’t forget to practice proper body alignment while using them!
What Are Their Advantages?
By using blocks, practitioners can deepen their practice and gain greater flexibility and strength. They also help with correct alignment and proper body placement, allowing for a more comfortable and safe experience, as mentioned previously. So let’s take a look at some of the main advantages a little more closely.
They Improve Your Posture When Stretching
Blocks are an excellent tool for improving your posture when stretching by providing extra support to help you reach and hold poses that would otherwise be difficult without them. It is believed that yoga blocks can relieve discomfort in your back, shoulders, and neck by aligning your hips and providing stability.
Yoga blocks alleviate tight, sore muscles by relieving strain during poses such as standing forward fold or side-angle pose, which helps improve your overall posture. When used correctly, yoga blocks can also build core strength and muscle tone as you use different muscles to support the body weight on the block.
They Can Support Your Spine During Poses
One of the most significant benefits of using yoga blocks is that they can really support your spine during certain, more challenging poses. Whether you’re trying an asana (yoga pose) for the first time or need to add a little extra height, they are incredibly versatile and perfect for adding just a bit of extra lift.
When practicing a forward fold or other positions involving your spine, it’s crucial to ensure proper alignment and never push yourself beyond what’s comfortable. But with a yoga block, you can more easily reach a full sitting position even if you lack the flexibility that day. As your practice progresses, you’ll be able to use blocks in more complex poses like side twists and standing postures. With enough repetition, you’ll soon find yourself defying gravity like a yogi master!
Your Body Awareness Will Improve
These devices offer an exciting but often overlooked benefit: improved body awareness. The firm, stable foundation that yoga blocks provide can help you better align your body and achieve better posture. That stability also encourages you to focus on which muscles are engaged during the pose and how your body moves to achieve it.
This increased awareness will help you transition from one pose to the next more manageable and with more control. This makes it easier to practice each pose correctly and safely, so you don’t injure yourself. With an improved sense of body awareness, you’ll be able to perform even more challenging poses as your practice grows.
They Are Great For More Challenging Poses
These yoga props are incredibly versatile items that help with alignment and support more challenging poses that your body might otherwise be unable to access. In particular, blocks are great for beginners and people who have difficulty reaching the ground in certain poses. Not only can you use these foam cubes to improve your posture, but they allow you to practice positions such as forward folds with greater ease and confidence.
For instance, instead of doing a standing forward fold without any support, you can use them to prop up your hands or forearms on a hard surface like the floor. This helps relieve pressure from the hamstrings and lower back since you won’t have to strain as much reach for your toes.
They Help To Adjust The Depth Of A Pose
When you practice yoga, depending on your level of experience and flexibility, certain poses may be too challenging or uncomfortable for your body. But if you use a block to help generate less intensity in an asana, you can access deeper positions without any risk of injury or strain. Additionally, using blocks during relaxation postures will enable you to find far greater ease in the texture of the pose.
For example, if you have difficulty touching your toes in forward folds, grounding one end of the yoga block onto the mat and placing the other just beneath your feet will enable you to fold at a more comfortable level for your hip area and lower back. The simple addition of the block will make it possible for those who would otherwise be unable to reach a particular position, even with stretching, to tap into this more profound yoga experience without compromising safety or comfortability.
How You Can Use Them In Different Poses
Now that you know what they are and what benefits they provide, it’s time to explore which poses they work best with.
Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon)
The Ardha Chandrasana pose, also known as the Half-Moon pose, is a powerful standing balancing posture that uses a yoga block to build strength and stability. This pose is beneficial for developing balance, which helps create control over the body by strengthening abdominal muscles and enhancing focus and concentration. It supports the core, helps with balance, and improves coordination while calming the mind. However, many find it challenging at first, necessitating the use of a block to maintain a full stretch.
Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III)
Virabhadrasana III (or Warrior III Pose) is a standing pose that’s great for building strength, balance, and flexibility. This pose encourages balancing on one foot while the other leg extends back behind you and your arms reach out alongside your head with straight elbows. You can use blocks to help make this pose more comfortable, especially if you are newer to yoga or need to modify the pose because of an injury or limited mobility.
Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle)
Utthita Parsvakonasana pose is a popular yoga asana that strengthens the legs, hips, and abdominals while stretching the lateral side of the body. It is traditionally entered by standing in mountain pose, then stepping one leg out to the side before bending it to a right angle and extending your arms towards the sky. In Utthita Parsvakonasana, having the support of a bolster placed under your hands can be incredibly helpful for supporting and deepening your practice. The blocks act as an anchor point that you can use to prevent yourself from slouching or falling over and also help to extend your reach so that you can reap all of the benefits this pose offers. Additionally, blocks are especially useful if you have tight shoulders or limited flexibility, as they allow you to create more space between your body and arms without needing to strain too much.
Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)
Utthan Pristhasana, also known as the Lizard Pose, is a beautiful floor pose that focuses on stretching your hips, hamstrings, quadriceps, and groins. You use two of them as support to help you sink deeper into this pose. To get into this pose:
- Start by coming into a low lunge position with your right leg forward.
- Place two foam blocks in front of you at whatever height feels good for your body.
- Slowly lower down onto your elbows while allowing the weight of your body to stretch through your hips.
- Hold the pose for several breaths, then switch legs and repeat on the other side.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Uttanasana pose is a standing forward bend yoga posture. It is typically done at the beginning of practice as a way to increase flexibility and relaxation and is also known as Standing Forward Bend or Intense Stretch Pose. In order to perform Uttanasana, you fold forward from the hips until you are able to rest your palms flat against the floor just beyond your feet (or use your props for support if needed).
Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Utthita Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose, is a standing meditation pose that transitions gracefully between strength and flexibility. It’s an ideal pose for strengthening the legs, opening the hips, and improving posture and balance. Practicing this pose with blocks can provide more stability and enable you to reach more deeply into the stretch. As your balance improves through practice, it is possible to eventually come even closer to developing alignment in this joyful posture.
Yoga blocks are a brilliant tool for yogis of any level and can really help enhance your practice. Whether you’re an experienced yogi or just starting out, you can use these simple blocks in a multitude of ways to deepen your stretches and add support to poses. Take some time to explore their different uses, and you’ll quickly discover how valuable they really are!