Props Arent Just For Beginners; They Can Be Used To Develop And Even Deepen Dimensions Of Asana Practice The Humble Yoga Block For Example Gives Us Countless Ways To Vary Our Practicehighlighting Sensations That Help Us Experience A Pose In A New Way Here Are 10 To Try
Before I became a yoga teacher, I didn’t use props; I didn’t “need” them to achieve the pose. It’s poetic justice that many of my students share my old attitude. They seem to disdain using blocks or straps, seeing them as an admission of weakness or inability to perform the “full pose.”
But here’s what I’ve learned: props are tools. You wouldn’t judge a builder as “bad” at his or her work because they used the right tool for the job, so why not use the appropriate prop in yoga practice? Props aren’t just for beginners; they can be used to develop and even deepen dimensions of asana practice. The humble yoga block, for example, gives us countless ways to vary our practice—highlighting sensations that help us experience a pose in a new way. Here are 10 of my favorites.
Do You Need A Yoga Bolster A Yoga Pillow A Zafu A Zabuton A Yoga Cushion Or Just Some Yoga Blankets
A short article explaining the differences between yoga bolsters, yoga pillows, zafu, zabuton, yoga blankets and yoga cushions.
Which one do you need? Do you need more than one? Do you need one at all? What are they anyway? Confused? Don’t worry, it’s easy really!
Strictly speaking you don’t need any special yoga equipment to perform yoga poses. You can do them naked on the grass, in the park ! However, yoga mats, yoga blocks, yoga straps, yoga bolsters and the right yoga clothes can all make your yoga poses much more comfortable. Yoga should never cause you pain. It isn’t a competitive sport. You’re not even competing with yourself! You should use any yoga props you feel are necessary to keep you comfortable and help your body stretch and relax without straining.
Yoga bolsters are long, firm cushions designed to give extra support to your body during restorative yoga poses. They are useful for anyone but are particularly helpful if you are a beginner or if you are practicing yoga during pregnancy. They can also help if you suffer from arthritis, joint pain or lower back pain during yoga.
Yoga bolsters come in two main shapes. Round yoga bolsters are really cylinders , usually about two feet long by 9 inches across. Rectangular yoga bolsters are very similar but with square edges. There’s no real difference, the choice is yours. Breathing, Pranayama or Savasana bolsters are similar but slightly narrower and thinner.
Are These Blocks Use Only By Beginners Or You Can Use Them At Advanced Levels As Well
As I mentioned before yoga blocks are primarily used by beginners. For beginners, these devices help them to overcome their physical limitations and uncertainty that they face when they are just starting with their practice. Even the poses which are more difficult and usually seem impossible to achieve become more feasible with their support.
After using yoga blocks a few times, you will have the required capability to achieve the same poses on your own without any support.
The requirement to use these blocks reduces as you master more yoga poses. This is because, as you start getting more flexibility and more confidence on your body’s ability to hold different poses, you stop feeling the need of having yoga blocks for support.
However you can still use them if you need help with some particularly difficult poses or you want to develop better alignment in your body.
How Basic Props Can Help Even Veterans Deepen Their Stretches And Maintain Alignment
Many who practice yoga see the foam blocks and straps used in classes as crutches that they discard once they achieve a measure of proficiency. But those props also can help intermediate and advanced practitioners deepen their stretches, maintain proper alignment and challenge themselves, yoga instructors say.
The best function of blocks and straps lies in helping people fit a pose to their body “like a fine, tailored suit,” says Bethany Lyons, founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga in New York City. People often are less flexible on one side of their body than the other, for instance.
Some yoga practices use props more often than others, but the tools are available for use without charge in most classes. Ms. Lyons and Robin Armstrong, an instructor based in Vancouver, British Columbia, discuss several ways to benefit from props:
The Triangle Test
Ms. Armstrong says when she teaches anatomy to yoga instructors, she pairs them up with someone of similar height. She has each pair compare the lengths of their legs, arms and torsos to illustrate the wide variability in bodies and illustrate the need for accommodation.
How To Use Yoga Blocks Here Are 10 Common Poses You Can Modify With Blocks:
In the following postures, make sure you use an appropriate height of the block. There is a “small,” “medium,” and “large” edge of the block. Be sure your yoga blocks are always stable when practicing postures.
Choose the correct type of block for you, too. More weight-bearing positions require stable cork blocks. However, these rigid blocks should not be used on joints. are less stable but more comforting to joints. It’s a good idea to have both types available as your practice grows.
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 flexibility 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.
Bks Iyengars Take On Restorative Yoga For Injury Illness And Stress
Recovery has always been built into yoga through postures like Savasana, but B.K.S. Iyengar, a father of the modern practice, was the first to systematically develop restorative sequences, which he designed to help people struggling with injury, illness, and overwork. Now you can find restorative classes on most studio schedules.
Gail Grossman, owner of Om Sweet Om Yoga in Port Washington, New York, and the author of the new book Restorative Yoga for Life, says, “I tell people that in some ways, this is the hardest class you’re going to take. When you’re still, it’s hard to shut off your mind, and that’s where the real work is. That’s also where you might find the greatest capacity for growth, deep relaxation, and true well-being.”
Grossman developed the following sequence exclusively for Yoga Journal, and recommends practicing restorative yoga at least once a week to see lasting benefits. Allow enough time to experiment with positioning, and try to let go—at least temporarily—of the need to strive.
Ok Im Sold I Need Yoga Blocks How Many Yoga Blocks Should I Get
We recommend 2 yoga blocks , considering you have 2 sides of your body to work evenly. Also, many restorative poses utilize two blocks to support multiple areas of your body to allow full relaxation in the pose.
What one yoga block can be used for:
- Length support in one sided poses such as Triangle, Extended Side Angle, and Half Moon
- Comfort support in poses such as Hero, Fish, and Pigeon
- Balance and alignment support in poses such as Crow and Boat
You need two yoga blocks for:
- Length support in two sided poses such as Full Split, Downward Facing Dog, and Camel
- Strength building exercises such as L Sit and Chaturanga
- Comfort support in two sides poses such as Reclined Bound Angle
- For extra support in restorative postures such as Bridge and Fish chest openers
- If you are extra tight on one side and need extra length
If you were to ask me, I’m definitely going to say you should go ahead and get a set of two blocks. The benefits of having two just seem like a no-brainer and it is really not that much more expensive- and you will have them for years to come to assist you in an endless amount of ways to advance your yoga practice!
Best Yoga Block In A Set: Sunshine Yoga Restorative Yoga Kit
If you plan to do a lot of yoga at home, you might find yourself investing in prop after prop. Pro tip: It’s easier to buy a set. This one includes everything you’ll need to make an EOD restorative yoga session as relaxing as possible, including a bolster, eye pillow, strap, blanket, and a pair of black yoga blocks.
What Is The Difference Between A Yoga Block And A Yoga Brick
The main differences are the dimensions. Yoga blocks are thinner and have a greater flat surface area whereas a yoga brick is chunkier making them a bit denser. They have different purposes; a yoga blocks support you for seated postures to add extra height, support the head in supine postures or provide a surface/platform for challenging arm balances or shoulder stands.
A yoga brick help ‘bring the floor to you’ e.g. if your hands can’t make it to the floor in a forward fold, you can use them for support. They can also be used for back bend support in poses such as Matsyasana or resting your knees on in Sukhasana or for resting the forehead on in Balasana . Many yoga practitioner’s have both in their yoga kit!
Why Yoga Blocks Are Absolutely Necessary For Your Practice
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Think yoga blocks are just for beginners? Think again. Yoga blocks allow you to practice integrity of form in yoga postures, ensuring you get the most out of your yoga practice. They assure proper alignment that allows for proper muscle memory to be built , and most importantly, open channels for the breath – or prana – to flow freely.
Are yoga blocks necessary? Yes, yoga blocks are absolutely necessary. Yoga blocks make poses more accessible to you by providing length, support, and ensuring proper alignment. They also help yogis looking to advance their practice by acting as a tool for strength building and balance in more advanced postures.
Yoga blocks help beginners go “lighter,” but also help advanced practitioners enter, and advance into, postures that would otherwise be inaccessible. When your body is attempting to enter a pose that’s past its limits, your muscles tense up , actually keeping you from going deeper into the pose.
How To Use Yoga Blocks To Make Yoga Poses More Accessible
But why do you need a yoga block in the first place?
Because they are freaking amazing.Yoga blocks allow you to practice yoga poses in a safer, more beneficial way.
All that bending, twisting, and folding you do in yoga poses can be difficult, especially when you are newer. Yoga blocks are essential to doing the postures skillfully.
Best Overall Yoga Block: Manduka Recycled Foam Yoga Block
Manduka is known for its top-of-the-line yoga mats , but the brand’s yoga blocks stand out too. They have a little more weight to them than your typical foam block, which means added stability when you’re attempting to balance. If you love the softness and cushion of foam but want a more sustainable option, you’ll appreciate that these yoga blocks are made of up to 75 percent recycled plastic.
Using Yoga Blocks ~ A Great Way To Align Your Yoga Poses
The beauty of yoga blocks is that it can aid in the proper alignment for all yoga practitioners.
‘When the breath wanders the mind also is unsteady. But when the breath is calmed the mind too will be still, and the yogi achieves long life. Therefore, one should learn to control the breath.’ ~ Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Many people feel that using yoga blocks reveals that you are not very good at yoga. Using them is a sign of weakness. When in fact, the opposite is true!
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The use of blocks is for the exact reason in the above quote. It is almost impossible to have a calm, steady breath when you are out of alignment in a yoga pose. Therefore if you are committed to getting the absolute most out of your yoga practice, you will chose to use the block, if you are struggling to hold a pose.
You can tell if you need a yoga block if you are unable to hold a slow, calm and steady breath! Easy to determine, don’t you think?
As a yoga teacher, as soon as I see a student with a look of over-concentration on his/her face, I know they are pushing too hard to maintain a yoga pose. So I always give them a modification as soon as I witness the pushing. That modification usually involves yoga blocks or sometimes a yoga strap.
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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.
Adaptation 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.
How To Do Yoga At Home: What You Need And What You Don’t
With the right tools, yoga at home can help cultivate peace, mindfulness and fitness.
Yoga, often brushed off as easy by people who enjoy more intense forms of exercise, actually holds the power to change your whole life: A consistent yoga practice can significantly reduce aches and pains, improve balance and flexibility, improve your fitness, keep your brain sharp, relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce stress, help you sleep better and, unsurprisingly, considering those benefits, improve your overall quality of life.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a yoga practice but feel too intimidated, don’t be: Yoga is for everyone. Big or small, young or old, flexible or not, you can do yoga — and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.
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Having yoga tools and props can help you get started, but know that you don’t necessarily need any of these items to cultivate a yoga practice at home. For that, all you truly need is yourself — think of the items on this list as tools that can strengthen your yoga practice and make it something you look forward to each and every day.
Maintaining Proper Alignment Of Your Arms And Shoulders
Blocks can be used in any position where your arms should be shoulders-width apart to ensure that they truly are the proper width apart, and to bring awareness to muscle engagement in the upper body. One block is placed between the palms as the palms press into the smallest sides of the block to engage the triceps and biceps without tensing the shoulders. Try this out in:
- Warrior 1
- Side Angle
- Tree Pose with arms lifted
Do notallow the pressing of your palms into the block to cause your shoulder blades to rise up to your ears – visualize your shoulder blades gliding down your back, making your neck long; the block is solely to get your placement and arm activation, not to tense your upper back and neck.
Types Of Yoga Blocks: 3 Essential Features To Decide On
Yoga blocks may all look the same.
Make no mistake, though. Subtle differences in shape, size, and the material will determine:
- how heavy the blocks are;
- how long they will last;
- if they’re convenient to carry to a yoga class;
- whether the block can hold up your weight in arm balances.
Besides, individual characteristics, such as density or design, may determine the primary function of the block. For example, softer blocks are better for stretching and building flexibility. In contrast, firm and sturdy ones are best for practicing inversions and arm-balancing poses.
How To Use Yoga Blocks: For Beginners & Inflexible Guys
When you’re new to yoga, it might seem strange that there are only a few tools for your practice – a yoga mat, yoga blocks, and sometimes a strap. It’s obvious you stand on a mat, but what do you do with blocks?
Surprisingly, they’re actually used for a lot. Yoga blocks are props or tools used for three things: making poses more accessible, acting as a cue or support, and adding extra resistance for developing strength.
I’ll cover more below!
If you don’t already have some yoga blocks, you can get some HERE.
How Many Yoga Blocks Do I Need: One Vs Two Yoga Blocks
The number of yoga blocks you decide to buy is mostly a matter of personal preference.
Getting two yoga blocks at once will make your practice considerably more versatile. You will be able to do a whole lot more poses while placing your hands on two blocks. If stacked together in a row, blocks, especially softer foam ones, can even substitute a yoga bolster and work great for relaxing and chest-opening poses.
Most yoga blocks now conveniently come in the set of two. Some brands also offer a discount if you get a pair.
If you eventually decide to use only one block, you can always stash the second one for later as a replacement, or keep one yoga block in the yoga studio and another one at home.
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.
Yoga Blocks Help You Do The Work Of The Posture Part 2
When we are new to yoga, the challenge is often having enough mobility and range of motion to take up the invitation of the posture.
Indeed, yoga is often thought about as a flexibility practice. In reality, yoga has always been about inner and outer strength.
You see this transition as your practice progresses. You go from barely being able to touch the floor to placing your hands down flat.
As I mentioned above, once you get into the posture’s basic shape, you are in maintenance mode. You can change this by adding refinements and nuance to the practice or by using a yoga block.
At this stage of development, it’s not about increasing intensity by doing something different. An example of this would be you doing chaturanga while everyone else is doing plank. Yes, that ramps up the difficulty, but it’s a different posture.
To practice skillfully, you want to do what everyone else is doing; you just want to do it differently.
To illustrate, think about extended triangle, utthita trikonasana. You can get the basic shape of the legs wide apart, one hand down, one hand up, and your torso facing the side. To do it differently, we need to turn on more of the musculature, and we do that by getting a sense of the feeling of engagement.
If we zoom into the front leg in triangle, the kneecap is lifting because the quadriceps are engaging. How do you get the entire leg to engage, particularly the back of the front leg?
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.
Yoga Blocks Teach You To Engage And Provide Stability
One more way blocks help you do the work of the posture is by giving you something to press against.
Usually, what we are trying to press against is the floor. We’ve already given the example of how yoga blocks can be used to raise the floor. But let’s underscore that you want to not only touch the block but be able to press into it firmly.
This is why you want to choose the right block height for you, low, medium, high, or what I like to call the “skyscraper” setting. If your fingers can barely touch the block on the low setting, for example, it’s better to opt for the medium setting.
Again, the dispelled myth of “cheating” affects if we use the correct height. Instead, go big and use the block and the appropriate height for you, in all its glory.
As a bonus, by pressing firmly into the block, you make it a more stable surface and, therefore, safer for you.
Recap: Yoga blocks make yoga poses accessible in two ways:
- They raise the floor so you can get the movement from the appropriate body part.
- They give you something to press against, which provides stability.
Prop Perfect: Reasons To Grab A Blanket During Yoga
While blocks and yoga straps are standard in a beginner yoga class, many students shy away from using a blanket. For one, they’re not sure why they’d need to take a nap in class! However, a blanket can be a help to any yoga practice for getting grounded, offering support, and more.
Have a strong seat: Even from your first and final seated meditation postures, sitting up tall on a blanket will help give your spine a little extra lift and your hips a little more room to relax. Sitting on the blanket will help your pelvis tip forward and prevent your back from rounding. Your strong pranayama breathing will move through your body with a new kind of intensity. Once this shift is made, it’s hard to go back.
Make space for growth: Whether your knees or hips need a little extra love, beginners or even intermediate yogis will benefit from using a blanket. Instead of focusing on knee pain in Crescent Warrior, the blanket takes the pressure off your joints, allowing focus to be placed on holding the shape comfortably. Using a blanket in Pigeon is another big help. Rolling a blanket up and threading it under a bent leg offers comfort and support.