Using Blocks in Yoga

My latest article for the Stanly News and Press:

The lovely Taren using a block in Trikonasana.
The lovely Taren using a block in Trikonasana.

I love Yoga and Pilates, but I love them even more because props make both of them accessible to all who come to my classes.  As a teacher, I am able to teach every level of student who walks into the room and as a practitioner, I am able to enhance my alignment and form and ease my way into poses I am working on.

One of the most used and most basic props is the block.  Blocks should be provided anywhere Yoga classes are held. There are foam, cork and wooden blocks out there for sale, but if you do not have an official Yoga block, you can use a large, sturdy book for your home practice.  The block’s most common use is to bring the floor up to you.  There are three levels on each block so as your body opens up while holding a pose, you can drop it down a level to feel more sensation.

Triangle Pose, or Trikonasana, is a great place to experiment with a block by placing it in front of or behind your front foot so you are able to keep the legs straight and the torso in one plane with the legs.  I like to use the analogy of the entire body being like a piece of bread in a toaster to help achieve proper alignment, but I often see people reaching down for the floor and folding the body forward. I can walk over and place a block under their hand and the torso immediately lengthens and the heart and shoulders opens.

Blocks under the hand or hands are great in many other postures as well, such as Standing Forward Fold, Side Angle, Revolved Side Angle, Wide Leg Forward Fold, Pyramid Pose, Revolved Triangle, Balancing Half Moon and Warrior 3.  You can also sit on a block in Easy pose or Hero pose and place it between you sits bones and heels in Rock Pose.  Shoulder Bridge becomes a restorative posture by placing a block under the sacrum and when lifting the legs in the air from there, Shoulder Stand becomes a supported asana.

Always try to find a well trained, certified teacher to teach you safe and effective ways to modify each pose in your practice to fit your body.  Know that there will be days that you feel more strong and open than others and let your props be a way for you to bring your practice down a notch when you need to take it easy.  Yoga is a lifelong practice so there is no goal or destination, just a beautiful time to honor and love your body.

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