Yoga props are used to help create more space, find more stability, and have freedom to explore different poses—and this is exactly what a yoga block does. For me, yoga blocks are among the most useful yoga props. There is no shame in using a yoga block! I remember feeling a bit shy using my yoga block at first when I was starting out as I thought it would expose me as a newbie. I soon realized that although it is a great help for beginners, it can also help deepen the practice of more advanced yoga practitioners.
As soon as I moved past my wrong impression of yoga blocks, I’ve learned to love mine. It has become quiet guide for me in my yoga journey and now, I’m not afraid to play around with it whenever I’m on the mat. It has helped me improve my alignment and hold more difficult poses countless times.
Here are some of my favorite poses to do with my yoga block:
Triangle/Revolved Triangle Pose (Trikonasana/ParivrttaTrikonasana)
When I was still a yogi trying to find my flexibility, I used my block to help me with the triangle pose. I’d simply put my block on the floor beside my leg and instead of placing my hand on the floor, I’d place it on the block instead. One of the problems I encountered with trikonasana is hyperextension of my front knee. I found that using a block helped prevent this because I was able to better manage the way my weight is distributed. My first few attempts at the trikonasana felt like I was falling over while my front knee is locked; with my block, I finally felt more stable and I was able to check my alignment better.
Eventually, I became flexible and strong enough to hold my triangle pose without my block but there are lots of times now when I would still use it while in trikonasana. When I started doing the revolved triangle pose, I once again turned to my block for assistance in keeping my balance better.
Crow Pose (Kakasana)
There are two ways I have used my yoga block when doing the crow pose—under my forehead and under my feet. One of the initial challenges when I practice the crow pose is the need to lift myself high. This is the reason why the crow pose with the elbows bent is easier than the crane pose with the arms straight, because it easier to do it when you are lower on the ground. I used my block as something of a step stool for my feet. It allowed my feet to be elevated so that I’d have an easier lift.
Another challenge I had with the crow pose is the fear of landing on my face. I used the block as a ‘bumper’ for my forehead by placing it in front of me and gently leaning my forehead unto it as I attempt to lift myself for the crow pose. Not only did it make me feel more confident lifting off, I was also able to evaluate what I need to work on in my alignment.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Just like with the crow pose, I use my yoga block in two different ways while doing the bridge pose. I often use it between my thighs to prevent my knees or legs from splaying out. Keeping the block pinned between my thighs helped me to remember to draw them together.
I also sometimes use my block as support under my hips. I found this extremely helpful especially when I want to focus on opening my chest and holding the pose.
Downward-Facing Dog Pose (AdhoMukhaSvanasana)
Just like many people who are just starting out with yoga, I was incredulous when I learned that the downward-facing dog is a resting pose. I found it extremely tiring for my shoulders, arms, and hands so it definitely wasn’t restful for me at the start. It was such a discovery for me to use yoga blocks while doing my downward-facing dog.I used two blocks—one for each hand—and placed my hands on the blocks instead of the mat for a higher downward dog. This helped shift the weight from my shoulders and arms and moved my center of gravity towards my feet instead. Suddenly, I started to understand how the downward-facing dog can be a resting pose! I didn’t know that a simple lift on the hands can make such a difference in how I hold the pose.
Hero Pose (Virasana)
When I first saw the hero pose, it didn’t seem too challenging. Until I tried it, that is. I found that it can be deceptively difficult for the thighs, knees, and ankles especially when I haven’t quite built my flexibility yet. One way I made this pose more manageable is to use a block to sit on. I simply place the block in between my legs, making sure that my sitting bones rest on the block when I get into the hero pose. It lessened the difficulty for my thighs, knees, and ankles, allowing me to evaluate my alignment. After some time, I replaced my block with a folded blanket when doing the hero pose, and eventually, I was able to do it comfortably without any props.
These are just a few yoga poses I like to do with my block. The options are not limited to these!Feel free to play around and experiment on your own. Use your yoga block in any way you feel to create more space or to build stability in your poses. My yoga block has been so helpful for me in building my confidence and improving my asanas.