Do you ever go to a yoga class and look around the room to see whether or not other people are using yoga blocks before deciding to grab some? You’re not alone. There’s some weird stigma with blocks being for “lesser” yogis, who aren’t as good. That’s crap. Use them. They’re great.
Yes I’m pregnant. That’s besides the point.
Blocks help you ease into a position more, alleviate pain, and help you do a pose correctly, instead of just trying to go “further” into a stretch. Whether you’ve got a baby on the way or not.
When people do a half lift in a forward fold (the pose pictured above) they often end up with a curled back, because it’s a difficult pose to get into (the aim is to have a flat back) if you have tight hamstrings. Or they rest their hands on their knees which puts pressure on a place that shouldn’t ever feel any. Always avoid your knees people! The aim is not to feel pressure in your knees. Ever! That’s why blocks are helpful. Put a block in front of you, in line with your shoulders, and rest your hands on it. Depending on how far down you can comfortably go while keeping a flat back, you can add a block at different heights (either vertically, which I’m using in the foreground, or horizontally, as the block in the background is sitting).
You can also do this stretch with slightly bent legs, of course. Being pregnant, I sometimes get a bit light headed if I bend down too far (especially with straight legs), so using a block really helps me stay present and still be able to get a good stretch.
Did you notice the second block in the picture above? Look closely, I’m sitting on one. If you don’t happen to have a comfy cushion or bolster (a fancy name for a long, rounded cushion used in yoga) lying around then a block works great to keep you elevated. Why bother? Because the added height you get allows your knees to be level with (or lower than) your hips, which takes some pressure off of them. If your knees don’t naturally fall to the floor I highly suggest doing this. It’ll be a lot more comfortable, and better on your bod.
Another variation you can try is this one. I’m using the blocks underneath my thighs while I sit cross legged to meditate. I’ve always had tight hips so my knees don’t go all the way down to the ground. As a result, I sometimes feel pain or pressure on my knees when I sit in this pose. But if I put blocks underneath like this, my thighs no longer have such a weight to carry, as they can rest on the blocks. The result? My knees don’t take the brunt of it anymore. They don’t hurt. Try it.
Another pose where blocks come in handy is pigeon pose. Here I’m using one underneath my left bum while my right leg is back and (relatively) straight. The reason being, I can’t get my left bum all the way down to the floor, which causes strain on my body (especially my left knee). By being able to rest on the block, my weight is fully supported, so there’s no pressure on the knee. The block makes it way more pleasant to do the stretch. Give it a go.
Yu can also use a block to rest your head, as above. While pregnant I’ve noticed that I get uncomfortable or light headed if I go all the way down to the floor, so I like to prop myself up a bit. But feel free to rest your head on a prop like this whether you’re pregnant or not!
These are just a few good examples of how to use blocks. There are countless ways they can help you stretch. So don’t be shy when it comes to using them, grab your blocks and go for it.
What other poses do you like to use blocks for?