Yoga blocks or “bricks” are becoming increasingly popular in many yoga classes and studios. Their main function is to aid yogis and beginners alike to achieve postures and stances that they would otherwise find difficult achieve. Yoga blocks are most beneficial if you still haven’t developed the flexibility that most yoga asanas or postures require you to possess. The blocks help individuals relax and feel comfortable while performing yoga and also improve their body alignment. With the aid of a simple and inexpensive yoga block you can stretch, strengthen and align your body without causing strain on your muscles.
Quite simply, the block (or blocks) either shorten the distance to the floor when used to extend your reach or they increase the distance to the floor allowing a greater stretch.
Here are 5 ways to incorporate the blocks into your sessions:
1. Sit on it
The block will improve your hip flexibility if you stretch by sitting criss-cross on the block and allowing your knees to sag toward the floor. The sitting higher on the block will allow your hips to open up, and will allow you to hold this position or meditate in this position for a longer time.
2. Under your hands
The block placed under your hands will act as a shortcut to the floor. Beginners often have a difficult time finding their balance in standing hands-to-floor poses, use the height of your block to correct this. This is helpful for those beginners who do not have the much needed flexibility to complete the pose.
3. Under your feet
Placing the wide side of the block under your feet, will add extra length. To add even more, vary the angles to the 6- or 9- inch sides. Doing so will extend your reach and challenge you.
4. Between your thighs
Your block can be placed between your thighs to ensure that your legs are properly aligned in poses like Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) or Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), where there is a tendency for your legs to open out to the sides.
5. As balance
Your block will support your weight, and it can definitely help maintain your balance. This is helpful during standing, squatting, and sitting positions and poses. This will help you find your center of gravity easier so you can maintain your balanced position longer. This will also help make standing on one foot or balancing using your hands easier.
While many people believe that yoga blocks are only used by novices, often times the more experienced the person practicing the more poses and meditation techniques using a yoga block. Many advanced poses require yoga blocks as arm extensions.