It took me a while to understand why the process of yoga is referred to as a practise. It takes practice to be able to do every pose and the flow of the movements properly. This includes gaining the proper strength and flexibility that is required to do some of the poses. I have found that utilising yoga blocks are extremely useful in progressing in my practice.
Yoga blocks provide great support for the yoga newbie. They help create more length so they can sink deeper into poses. They also reduce the space between themselves and the floor. Additionally, they aid their alignment in poses so they continue to be valuable props even for experienced yogis.
Using yoga blocks to increase flexibility is a great way to create length in a pose and help you achieve it. In this article, I discuss why you blocks are valuable yoga props. Also why you should use yoga blocks in your everyday practice. I also demonstrate how to use them on some of the most common yoga poses.
To Create Length in a Pose
A great benefit of using yoga blocks is that they can add length between you and the ground, in a sense extending your arms. This is especially beneficial if you aren't very flexible. It allows you to practice the yoga pose still as intended, getting the necessary stretch that will then lead you to become more flexible.
In any pose where you are required to touch the floor with your hands, you can use a yoga block to help you reach it. You can use the block at whichever height is best for you, on the short side, at its tallest, on the long side, at mid-height, or flat on the ground. As you practice more and become more flexible, you can move to a shorter height and eventually be flexible enough that you won't even need the block.
To Support You in a Pose
You can also use yoga blocks to support you, more specifically to support your knees or your hips if they are tight and not very flexible. To do this, you can place the blocks under one or both knees in a seated pose. This helps you release some of the strain you may be putting on your knees, or you can sit on the flat side of the block in seated poses to help open your hips more.
By using blocks, you can then be able to do poses to make them more comfortable and reduce injury risk. It also allows you to do the pose comfortably and realise its benefits. One day you have stretched and lengthened the muscles enough that you become more flexible and the blocks are not required.
To Help You Achieve a Pose
Yoga blocks are a popular prop for many yogis. One of the best things about them is that they can help you achieve a pose or move deeper into a pose than you otherwise may not have been able to.
They do this by adding length, as previously mentioned, allowing you to shift some of your weight onto your hands. They also help you with proper alignment. If you haven't done a pose before it can feel uncomfortable getting into it. Blocks allow you to practice the pose in a way that will help you improve at it, especially for flexibility.
By adding yoga blocks, you will also be able to complete poses and become more flexible much faster. When you add the yoga blocks, you can sink much deeper into the poses. When you deepen your stretch, you are training your muscles and nerves to prepare themselves to do it without the blocks.
8 Great Yoga Poses To Perform With Yoga Blocks
Below we have outlined 8 poses you can perform with yoga blocks. By using blocks it will enable you to create more length, sink deeper in the pose and aid your alignment.
If you attend a yoga class or have followed one online, you probably know that the forward fold is frequently used between many poses. As it gives you a deep stretch in your hamstrings, it also makes them more flexible over time. Who knows one day you will be able to touch your toes or even place your hands flat on the floor!
Using blocks, you can balance some of your weight onto your hands even if you can't bend over too far. To do this pose, follow these steps:
- Begin with your feet together, standing straight.
- As you exhale, bend over fully, letting your arms hang down.
- The blocks can be placed at whatever height works best for you, depending on how far you can bend.
- Bend knees as needed.
To do a horizontal forward fold, you will do the same movement, but you will be seated. You can choose to either place the block under your knees or place it on your thighs as a place to rest your head when you bend over towards your thighs. Feel free to move the block wherever you feel you need the most support. If you have hip issues, you may choose to sit on it instead of directly sitting on the floor.
Over time, you will remove the blocks, bringing your forehead to touch your thighs the more flexible you become.
This pose is similar to the forward fold as you will continue to stretch your hamstrings. So working on the same area flexibility you would be with the forward fold. However, you will also be working your inner thigh and your hips, giving you more mobility with your legs. To do this pose, follow these steps:
- Begin in a seated position with your feet straight out in front of you.
- Place the block either under one knee, set it to the side of your leg, or choose to place it on your thigh.
- Then, grab and pull one leg in so your foot is up near your inner thigh.
- Lean over as you attempt to bring your stomach to your thighs and your head to your knees. Keep your hips even.
By doing both this pose and the forward fold with blocks, you will begin to become more flexible in your legs over time. This can make doing plenty of yoga poses that much easier. You will even be able to sink deeper into your downward dog. Eventually, you might be flat-footed in the pose instead of on your toes due to this inflexibility.
This pose can be quite tough for people who have tight hips, so the best option is to use the blocks to raise the floor in this pose. Although, you can also use the block in this pose to make it even more advanced. The more you practice this pose, the more flexible your legs will become, and the better mobility you will have in your hips. To do this pose:
- Begin this pose in a downward-facing dog.
- Step your right foot to the top of the mat, to the outside of both of your hands. bringing yourself into a lunge position. Keep your left leg straight behind you.
- You will want to grab the blocks in both hands, at whatever length feels best.
- As you lower your left knee to the ground, push into your hips.
- You can choose to keep your arms straight if you already feel enough of a stretch. Or you can lower yourself onto your forearms with a block underneath each of your elbows. The blocks then allow your hips to open up a bit.
- Then push your left foot up onto your toes, keeping that leg straight. Repeat on the other side.
Increase Your Flexibility
If you can do this pose without blocks and are looking to become even more flexible, you can opt to place one block under the foot at the front of your mat. Raising the floor, so you experience a deeper stretch in your legs and hips.
To do this, place the block flat on the ground to the outside of your hands before you enter a downward-facing dog. Then as you step your foot to the front of the mat, step onto it. If you cannot lower down onto your forearms, you may not be ready for this quite yet.
This forward bend gives your inner legs, the back of your legs, and your spine an amazing stretch. So it helps to improve your flexibility when it comes to forward folds or bends. If you want to use a block to build flexibility in this pose, you can do it at a beginner's level or a more advanced level. It depends on your current flexibility. To do this pose:
- Begin this pose by standing up or in a mountain pose facing the long edge of your mat.
- Step your feet out far apart from each other, so you are in a wide stance. The taller you are, the further apart they should be. Keep your feet straight, facing the side of your mat.
- Placing your hands on your hips, push into the ball of your feet as you hinge at your hips. Remember to keep your torso long at all times. If your back starts to curve, this is a sign you should reach for your blocks.
- Keep your arms straight, with your blocks in hand at whatever height you wish.
- If you wish, walk your hands back slightly back behind your feet..
As you become more advanced in this, you can remove the blocks, placing your hands on the floor, and eventually your forearms. You may even be able to rest your head on the floor.
To make it more challenging and increase your spine's flexibility, even more, you can use one block. Place the block on the long edge, near the side of your mat. As you lean into this pose, grab the block with your forearms, and pick it up.
Then as you bend further, and reach your hands behind you. Place your head onto the floor, and continue squeezing your forearms as you press your hands into the floor.
This pose not only provides a great side stretch but also helps open up your hips. So it improves your range of motion and the mobility of your spine. By practising this pose, it can help you become more flexible in many other poses.
- Begin in the Warrior II pose.
- Bring your right hand in front of your right foot, where you can attempt to place your hand on your mat. If you can't reach, or feel uncomfortable, grab a block and at whatever height you wish to stabilise yourself better.
- As you push into the block with your right hand, lift your left hand to the sky, and look up towards it or down at your right hand. Repeat on the other side.
Remember to keep the block in line with the foot you have at the top of the mat. As you progress in your practice, try the lower height of the block first, then try to touch the floor, even if only your fingers can reach it.
The camel pose can be quite difficult, so using a block can help you open your chest and stretch your spine. By using the blocks, you will be able to do this backbend without putting yourself at risk for an injury if you are starting. To do this pose, do the following steps:
- Begin sitting on your knees with your feet tucked under your butt
- Lift yourself onto your knees, with your legs hip-width apart from each other. Keep the backs of your feet on the floor.
- Before you bend, place a block on both sides of your feet beside your feet, starting with the highest height.
- Lift yourself, and keep your hands on your hips.
- Then, one hand at a time, bring your hand back onto the block, with your fingers facing the front of the room.
- Bend your back gently as you do this, dropping your head to gaze backward.
As you do this pose regularly, you will build flexibility in your spine and sink deeper into the pose without the block's assistance. Begin with the blocks at the tallest setting, then move them down one height at a time giving your body the space to stretch and gain flexibility.
The pigeon pose is a great way to improve your flexibility as it encourages you to stretch your legs, back, and hips. Allowing your body to hold a position will get it more used to bending in ways you may not be used to. To do this pose, do the following steps:
- Begin this pose on your hands and knees, and slide your left knee up either behind or beside your left wrist.
- Then, slide your right leg back behind you with your heel to the sky and your toes pointed
- Your left leg can then bend, with your right foot in front of your left hip, almost forming a 90° angle
- Keep yourself up with your hands on either side of you.
For this pose, there are multiple options of where you can put the block. You can either:
- Place it under the knee of the leg that is bent.
- Place the block at the back of the knee, near your hip of the leg that is bent.
- Bring the block under your chest if you choose to bend forward into the half pigeon pose.
- Use the blocks in both of your hands to keep yourself upright.
The supported bridge is a great pose to do near the end of your practice, as it stretches your chest, abdomen, shoulders, and your spine. Bringing more flexibility to your spine, which, as mentioned previously, comes in handy in other poses. To do this pose, follow these steps:
- Begin by lying flat on your back.
- Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, as close to your butt as possible.
- Lift your hips to the ceiling, placing the block either horizontally or vertically under your lower back.
- Place your hands to your sides, and allow the block to support your bridge while still keeping your legs strong.
If you are looking to increase your flexibility, you can stretch even further. Placing the block at the highest level can help. To make it more of a challenge, remove the block after you have had some practice while still holding yourself at the same height.
Using blocks is a great way to help you do different poses without worrying that your lack of flexibility will ruin your ability to become more flexible. By adding in blocks, you can add length to your arms, allowing you to reach the ground where you couldn't before.
You can also use it under your legs or back to help you go deeper into a stretch than you could without it. The best part is that the blocks have three height settings. This allows you to gradually build flexibility in your body to a point where you won't need them.