Do You Need 1 Or 2 Yoga Blocks
I would definitely say if you’re going to invest in yoga blocks, invest in a pair of two. Many of the ways yoga blocks are used in helping you deepen into poses usually require one block, but the majority of the ways to use them for strengthening and improving flexibility in poses require two, one on each side.
Luckily, usually when you buy a set of yoga blocks, they automatically come with two, unless you are buying more high end bamboo or wooden blocks.
Yoga Blocks Create Length In Your Body
Many yoga postures are intended for you to create length in the body, but sometimes that benefit is not attainable by just trying to create a certain shape in the body.
Once we begin to add yoga blocks into the postures that we want to help lengthen, we can start to see those benefits.
If the image of the posture that you might see your yoga instructor doing or the image on the internet is not attainable in your body, that doesn’t make your body unworthy of practicing that pose. It just means you may have to do it a little differently.
Blocks help you to feel the posture in the body rather than struggle just to create a shape that may not be benefiting you.
Below are some yoga block poses that will help you create length.
How To Add Challenge & Develop Strength With Yoga Blocks
Many yogins who have practiced for years do not use blocks. That’s a missed opportunity because blocks can amp up the challenge of any yoga practice. In response, your body will work harder and thus get stronger.
To build strength, we rely primarily on the exercise science principles of adaptation and progressive overload.
states that as you do a yoga posture, your body gets stronger over time and adapts to it. You are in maintenance mode from that point forward, but your body will not get any stronger from that particular pose.
What now? You need the principle of progressive overload, which says that you have to keep applying an appropriate next level challenge to strengthen your body.
In this case, the challenge comes in an innocent-looking 4” x 9” x 6” compact size. Yes, of course, it’s a yoga block.
We’re going to quickly list how you can use yoga blocks to spice up your practice.
Yoga Blocks Add Length And Height
Let’s revisit the forward fold. It doesn’t take a full range of motion to get your hands to the ground. To continue to do work, Iyengar advises us to move our hands behind us.
But that changes the angle. Instead, you can raise the floor by standing on the low level block, which gives you another 4 inches to reach down.
The same concept applies in a seated forward fold, paschimottanasana. By putting a block in front of your feet, you’ve added more work and thus more effort is necessary. The effect is one where you are lengthening your legs or adding onto your feet; however, you want to look at it.
Another great way to use weight is to put your front foot on a block in a low lunge. This adds to the hip extension feel of the leg that is behind you.
Using a block to add height, i.e., raising the ground strategically, allows you to change the pose’s angle and thereby what is having to work. To see this in action, just do chaturanga, but with your feet on blocks. Four limb staff posture’s got a brand new bag.
Yoga Blocks Are A Great Addition To Your Yoga Practice
There are so many ways to incorporate yoga blocks into your practice. Whether you’re a new yogi looking for modifications to help you access a pose or you’re an experienced practitioner looking to deepen an expression of a shape, there are endless possibilities.
Yoga blocks are your friend regardless of your experience level or what type of yoga you practice. And if you want a yoga discipline that specifically incorporates yoga blocks, you may be interested in Restorative Yoga.
T With Your Shoulder Blades Off The Block
The first way that you should try stretching your upper back is by placing your blocks in a “T” with your shoulder blades draping off the sides of the block.
Option 1: Block Under Sacrum
- Start by lying on your back with your feet on the ground and knees up.
- Keep your feet and knees parallel to one another.
- Press through the inner edges of your feet to lift your hips.
- Place a block on its tall, medium, or low height underneath your sacrum.
- Roll inner thighs down and relax through your gluteals. You can lift heels to create more space in the low back.
- Lift your chin away from your chest slightly and soften through the muscles of your neck and throat.
- Stretch through your belly as you engage through your back and hamstrings. One way to engage your hamstrings is to press down through your heels.
- Hold for 5–10 breaths.
- To come down, remove the block from underneath you and gently lower, one at a time.
- Releases hip flexors and low back
- Supports extension of the spine
Overall pose benefits:
How Many Yoga Blocks Do You Need
The number of yoga blocks you’ll need will depend primarily on the yoga pose you’ll be performing. On average, you’ll only need about two blocks. With the exception of cork blocks, you’ll likely never need to replace them long-term.
You may, however, want more than a couple of yoga blocks if you want to experiment with blocks of different sizes and/or materials.
Seated Lift With A Block
One of the first arm balances that people learn is a seated lift. Without a block, you might find yourself rounding your spine to press your hands in to the floor for the lift. When we round our spine it makes it harder for us to engage the core and thus harder for us to do the lift.
If you add blocks under your hands, you can create more length in the arms and space between you and the floor which will make the lift much easier to accomplish.
Childs Pose Shown Here Is A Gentle Way To Stretch The Lower Back
Including yoga in your exercise routine can be helpful if you’re living with the symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis , like pain and stiffness in your back.
“We don’t have a cure for AS, so yoga and other nonimpact exercises are great options,” says Melvyn A. Harrington Jr., MD, a professor of orthopedic surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
“Folks who have milder disease and don’t have significant stiffness can do more yoga poses than someone who has advanced disease,” Dr. Harrington notes.
For anyone, though, the expression “no pain, no gain” does not apply here — you don’t want to add to any pain you’re already feeling, so you’ll want to start slowly and tailor the yoga poses to your abilities.
Yoga Blocks Can Help Improve Your Form And Reduce The Risk Of Injury
In yoga, maintaining proper form is of the utmost importance. Whether you are new to yoga or trying a new pose, at first it can be challenging to maintain the proper form in a new position as your body may not have the muscles it needs to hold the form adequately. By integrating a yoga block into your practice, you can give yourself extra support in a challenging pose that could otherwise cause you to injure yourself.
As you use your yoga block, the stabilizer muscles and your body needs to hold the form properly will continue to build. You can adjust the height of the yoga block accordingly until you no longer need it. If you attempt to push yourself to hold a pose that is too challenging, you can unintentionally injure yourself by sacrificing your form.
Whats The Best Type Of Yoga Block
Back in the 70s when yoga blocks were first introduced, they were most often made out of wood. While wooden blocks still exist today, most common yoga blocks are made out of foam or cork.
Foam blocks are great for beginners and anyone looking to practice restorative postures. If you often find yourself reaching for a yoga block to support your chest, forearms, or forehead in deep stretches, foam blocks are for you. They provide more comfort and cushioning than harder cork alternatives. Most yoga studios use foam blocks because they are versatile and lightweight.
We love: Manduka’s Recycled Foam Yoga Block
Cork blocks offer more stability and grip. For those wishing to build strength, choosing a heavier cork block can be a great way to add challenge in overhead block holds, drills, and core work. Cork is also the best choice if you want to practice arm balances on blocks. Since they’re made out of a natural material, cork blocks are eco-friendly!
* Yogi Tip: cover cork blocks with a yoga blanket or towel for more comfort in restorative poses
Triangle Pose With A Block
In my classes I see students in triangle pose reaching their hand all the way to the floor rather than keeping their hand on their shin or thigh.
More often than not, this takes the body out of the intended benefit of the pose, which is to create length by stacking the body.
With a yoga block you can extend your arm further than your thigh while at the same time keep the length and integrity in the pose.
Option 2: Block Between Thighs
- Start on your back with your feet on the ground and knees up.
- Feet and knees should be parallel to one another.
- Place a block on the narrowest setting between the inner thighs, as close to the pubis as is comfortable.
- Drive the heels of the feet into the mat to tuck the tailbone toward your feet, scooping the low belly in and sealing your low back on the mat.
- Squeeze block between your thighs as you lift the hips.
- Roll your inner thighs down and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees.
- Reach your knees forward, contracting your thighs and softening your a little.
- Draw your heels back simultaneously, engaging your hamstrings. Try lifting your heels to create more space in the low back.
- Flex your toes toward your shins while keeping the soles of your feet grounded to contract your shins up toward your kneecaps.
- You can try grabbing the outside edges of the mat for support, place your hands down on the mat, or interlace your fingers under your low back, creating a shoulder shelf for the heart and chest to rest on.
- Draw your chest toward your chin, and your chin away from chest.
- Hold for 5–10 breaths.
- To come down, gently lower, one vertebra at a time.
What Are Yoga Blocks
Blocks are yoga props that can be integrated into yoga practice. Yoga blocks are square in shape and resemble a brick. Though yoga blocks are available in a variety of different sizes, a standard yoga block size is 9 x 6 x 4 inches in size. The benefit of this size of yoga block is that it allows for three different heights, which allows you to adjust the block height as your practice progresses or depending on the pose you are using the yoga block for. A yoga block must be capable of supporting your weight; many of them are made out of foam or cork.
Foam yoga blocks are often the most cost-effective option, though they deteriorate faster and stain more easily than their cork counterparts. While cork yoga blocks may cost more initially, they often last longer. In addition, cork is a natural antimicrobial, which means that it naturally kills bacteria.
Some individuals mistakenly believe that using a prop is a sign of weakness when practicing yoga, but props can be a beneficial addition both to individuals who are experienced or just beginning to practice yoga. There are many vital benefits that can be received by integrating yoga blocks into your practice and the first step to allowing them to be a positive impact on your practice is to let go of any misconceptions or assumptions you have had about their usefulness.
How To Use Yoga Blocks
Yoga blocks can be used in a variety of ways, but in the end, to benefit you, it really boils down to three main things: lengthening, strengthening, and support. We’ve broken down how to use yoga blocks by providing 12 different examples of yoga poses they can be used in. The ways the yoga blocks are used in the following poses can be carried over to use with other poses as well.
Ways To Use Your Yoga Bolster
The yoga bolster is not just a tool for beginners as there are many different ways to use the prop to assist in your stretches and basic asana.
Unlike common belief, using props and accessories during your yoga practice isn’t just for beginners. In fact, yoga props — and especially bolsters will enhance your overall experience and make it easier and deeper. It will take your fitness game to the next level, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. A bolster is different than a yoga block; it’s a firm cushion that comes in rectangular, circular, or cylindrical shapes. The bolster’s main purpose is to ensure certain yoga poses or to stay comfortable when doing all different poses.
A bolster is commonly used in and restorative-based classes. It helps in achieving the right postures and opens the body to get the maximum benefits of the yoga practice. So whether you are a beginner doing basic asana and need support or a pro who needs a new stability challenge, there is a use for the yoga bolster in your practice.
Yoga Blocks Support Your Back
Some of my favorite backbends are supine and supported with a block.
A supported backbend will give you all the benefits of the backbend without you having to strain your body or force anything to happen.
I like to take the block across all the different parts of my spine to open it up.
When doing this hold each position for at least 5 breaths.
If any part of your back gives you pain signals as you move it along, then back off and skip that section.
I like to hold longer on the lowest part of the back and work through different leg variations.
How To Use A Yoga Block For Supported Bridge Pose
One more classic supported posture is bridge, setu bandha sarvangasana. Here’s how you do it.
- Lie on your back with your yoga block by your side.
- Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground hip-width apart.
- Lift your hips, belly, and heart off the ground.
- Place the block on an appropriate level, either low, medium, or high, below your sacrum.
- Rest your body down on the block and savor.
To come out, press into your feet, lift your hips, slide the block out, then curl down your upper back, middle, back, lower back, and finally, your butt.
The block has your back, or maybe your butt, and helps you get the benefit of the posture, relaxation.
T With Your Shoulder Blades On The Block
Now, turn your blocks so that you make a “T” the other way.
Option 1: Block Under Forehead
- Start in a Tabletop position with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Walk your hands forward, keeping your hips over your knees, and your thighs relatively perpendicular to the mat.
- When you reach your stopping point and cannot walk any farther without shifting hips in front of knees, start to melt your chest toward the mat.
- As you do so, continue wrapping your upper arms down toward the mat, creating space in your upper back.
- Place a block on the lowest setting, underneath your forehead, relaxing the neck and facial muscles.
- Over time, the forehead may work its way to the mat; or your forearms and chin will release to the mat eventually.
- Roll your inner thighs slightly inward toward the back of the room while also hugging them up toward your pubis.
- Take deep breaths into the belly, inflating it like a balloon that’s trying to kiss the mat.
- Let every exhale soften your belly back in to help you deepen the stretch through your chest.
- Hold for 5–20 breaths.
Step 3 The Reverse Curl Ups
Step 3. Fifteen knees to chin for every 60 seconds on the Block
It is imperative always to follow the Back Block with the low abdominal exercise of reverse curl ups. After rocking the knees first, to remove the cast-ness of your back, and make it easier to hump your back around the other way, you should go straight to these. If you fail to do the prescribed number your back will feel stiff and sore over the next few days. Reverse curls and the BackBlock should always be balanced, otherwise the benefit is reduced.
DO NOT PROCEED WITH THIS REGIMEN WITHOUT THE EXPRESS APPROVAL OF YOUR TREATING MEDICAL PRACTITIONER OR THERAPIST. IF IN DOUBT, DO NOT PROCEED.DO NOT USE THE BACKBLOCK IF YOU HAVE SUFFERED IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS FROM SEVERE BACK OR LEG PAIN, PINS AND NEEDLES, NUMBNESS OR MUSCLE WEAKNESS, DISTRIBUTED BLADDER CONTROL, SADDLE ANAESTHESIA, ADVANCED OSTEOPOROSIS, SPINAL METASTASES, OR ANXIETY OR MENTAL DEPRESSION, OR IF YOU ARE IN LATE STAGES OF PREGNANCY.
You can order your BackBlock here. You may be wondering why you need to order one, and not just use a yoga brick. The Sarah Key BackBlock has the instructions written all over it, so you never get it wrong. It is also the right shape and size to be the most comfortable for all sizes of humans.
Option 1: Blocks Under Hands
- Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana with your palms on the blocks. Shift your weight forward into a high Plank Pose.
- Start to lower your hips down toward the mat as you lift your chest and gaze to point toward the front of the room.
- If accessible, untuck toes and come to the tops of the feet.
- Press your hands down as if they were trying to press through the blocks.
- Broaden across your chest and collar bones.
- Draw your shoulders down your back, away from your ears.
- Hug your front lower ribs in and lengthen your tailbone down toward your heels to take pressure out of the low back.
- Roll upward slightly through your inner thighs to narrow your frontal hip points and create space in your low back.
- Contract through your front thighs as if you were trying to lift them away from the mat.
- Hold for 5–10 breaths.
- Blocks teach us to lift our knees off of the mat in Upward Dog. Contracting through the quadriceps and lifting knees off the mat protects the lumbar spine.
- Blocks give the spine more space in the backbend so that we are not moving the bend into the upper or lower back. Blocks target the thoracic spine, which is your middle back.
Overall pose benefits:
Ways To Use A Yoga Block In Your Workout
- September 14, 2019
Deepen stretches, ignite your core, or invite awareness into movements and poses you’ve done a thousand times—just by adding the versatile yoga block.
Below are 24 ways to add a yoga block into your workout routine.
- Stand with your feet under your hips, arms in front of you, squeezing a yoga block between your forearms.
- Sweep your arms straight overhead, keeping the block pressed firmly between your forearms and hold.
- Draw your shoulders down away from your ears and breathe.
Deep Neck Stretch
- Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees bent, yoga block in your hands.
- Place the block under your head at the base of your skull. Keep your hands on either side of the block for stability as you press your hips toward the ceiling and hold the stretch.
- Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor, knees bent, yoga block next to your hips.
- Lift your hips to the ceiling, and slide the block under your tailbone to support your backbend.
- Begin kneeling on your right knee, left knee bent in front of you, left foot flat on the floor. Both knees start at 90 degrees.
- Place the block under your left foot lengthwise so it elevates your forward foot a few inches off the ground.
- Tuck your pelvis and lean forward into your left leg to feel a stretch in your left hip flexor. Hold onto your left knee for support.
- Release and switch sides.
Expansive Thoracic Breath Opener
Asymmetrical Downward Dog
Loaded Core Pike
For Support And Comfort
A bolster helps you rest when performing poses that help you sleep like yin yoga. That’s why it’s important to get the needed comfort and support. It helps hold the position longer and get comfortable with it without causing tension from pressing on a hard surface for a long time.
A bolster helps to practice a full range of positions, whether by lying, kneeling or sitting. It helps with positions like putting feet up the wall, supported twist, or bridge. By placing the bolster underneath your backside and hold the pose for a longer time.
How To Choose The Best Yoga Blocks
The first time I used Yoga Blocks 30-some years ago I can’t say I loved the experience. The blocks were very heavy—solid pine—and had sharp edges that dug into my skin. They were also very slippery. The chances of dropping them on toes—and causing significant damage—were high. Plus my ego resisted using something I thought of back then as a crutch.
All that has changed. My small studio has 50 Yoga Blocks stored in its prop room, blocks of many different kinds, to fit the preferences of my students. I love my blocks, and so do my students. Together we’ve discovered so many ways to use them.
The best news is that blocks are far more comfortable than they once were. All of Hugger Mugger’s blocks have rounded or beveled edges and the materials used are much easier on our skin and bones than the pine blocks of the past. And there are lots of choices now: heavy and light, large and small. All of Hugger Mugger’s blocks are designed to be sturdy and stable, and to last a very long time. Many of the blocks in my studio are “vintage”—some dating back to the early 1990s—and they’re still going strong.
The Most Beneficial Yoga Block Uses According To Yogis
Upward-facing dog: I’ve always said that the “dog” poses in yoga are deceivingly hard—especially upward-facing dog. Miller highly recommends a modified upward-facing dog that incorporates yoga blocks. All you have to do is place both hands on separate blocks, then bend upwards while lying stomach-down on your mat. It helps!
Downward-facing dog: On a related note, you can use yoga blocks for your regular down dog, too. “One of my favorite ways to use two blocks—at the lowest height—is one under each hand for downward-facing dog,” says Clifton Turner. “This helps release pressure from the shoulder girdle, which allows me to focus on maximizing the length in my spine. Also, the added length it creates in my arms means that stepping my foot forward for any sort of lunging pose, like crescent or warrior two, means my foot has the space to arrive without me rolling to one side, compromising the shoulder joint.”
Pigeon pose: “I like using blocks under the chest and forehead in pigeon—that may be our absolute favorite usage of yoga blocks,” says Miller. “You won’t believe how deeply you’re able to let go.”
Supported bridge: Miller says that this yoga block use is “quite heavenly.” You can try this by placing a block underneath your hips , then press into your legs to lift your hips. The yoga block can also be used at its highest height to do a deeper expression of the pose.