Have you tried using yoga props like blocks, belts or bolsters for your yoga practice? Props are usually associated with styles like Iyengar, Restorative or Yin Yoga, but they can be used by everyone to improve asana alignment and balance, deepen stretches or relaxation, irrespective of which style of yoga you practice.
Blocks are amazing props that help us build strength, understand the alignment and get deeper into the postures. If you have been struggling with problems like lifting your body weight in arm balances, relaxing the head in forwarding bends, sitting on the floor for too long, wobbling in standing asanas, etc., then blocks can be your best friends.
Even advanced practitioners find blocks useful to explore asana anatomy or use them for deep relaxation. It is best to invest in a pair instead of one block because it adds to the number of ways you can use them.
Blocks are available in foam, wood and cork and we recommend the use of cork blocks because they are lightweight yet provide great stability and are highly durable. Also, no trees are cut to make them and they are 100% natural. The following are a few suggestions on how blocks can help you improve and enjoy your yoga practice a little more!
Benefits of yoga blocks:-
- Helps you improve alignment
Problems like knee caving-in in bridge pose or squats, difficulty in keeping the knee aligned with the ankle in standing poses, or difficulty in keeping the spine straight, etc., are all alignment related problems. If we take the hip abductor muscles which are responsible for lifting your thigh out to the side, using the yoga blocks will help engage the muscles properly, which in turn helps align the hip, knees and spine and also keep them strong.
- Helps understand internal and external rotation
Do you feel lost when your yoga teacher speaks about rotating your thigh muscles internally or asks you to rotate shoulders externally? Well, all they are trying to do is increase your awareness on muscle movement, especially in hands, legs, hips and shoulders, so you can achieve proper alignment and avoid injuries.
- Brings the floor to you
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 yoga blocks vertically or horizontally, and avoid the wiggle wobble.
- Helps you stay in the posture for long
Holding yoga poses for long helps build strength, stamina, flexibility and also helps achieve therapeutic benefits of the asana. A block can give you the stability and support required to hold the posture, stay calm and breathe.
- Allows you to deepen the stretch
Placing your hands on the blocks give you support and allows you to get deeper into the pose. As a beginner, you can place the blocks between your feet in baddha konasana. Pressing your feet firmly into the block will encourage the opening of your hips, inner thighs and groins.
- Super comfortable to sit on
Sitting cross-legged or simply sitting down on the floor becomes very challenging if you have tight hamstrings. The knees are usually up in the air and the spine tends to hunch. This is a common problem with beginners. However, you can overcome this by sitting on a yoga block. You can also sit on a block in a child’s pose or hero pose and maintain a straight spine.
- Provides support in deep relaxation
In standing forward bends, you can place the block under your head as it provides support and calms the nervous system. This helps stay in the posture for long and relax. In seated forward bends, the blocks can be placed on your legs and you can rest your head on the block.
Do not forget to check out our post on What Are Yoga Blocks Made Of? In case you are interested to know in more details.