SO WHY ARE BLOCKS SO IMPORTANT?
I believe that every yoga practitioner, whether beginner of one with years of practise, should have at least two yoga blocks in their collection.
I have 6. All different weights, thicknesses and sizes. Don’t you worry I’ll explain this in a minute!
Blocks for beginners are ESSENTIAL! These props are cheap, versatile and make your yoga practice complete.
Beginners often run into a lot of discomfort and issues in alignment in the seated poses and this has to do with tight hamstrings and hips. This is where the blocks can come in and allow your body more space to get into the poses with more ease.
I LOVE props and blocks so much. A yoga block is a versatile yoga accessory that can be used in a variety of creative ways: for alignment, for beginners, for strength, for lengthening and for inversions.
With my Beginners Course around the corner I will be making sure that everyone who is taking part has a pair of blocks (at least) for each class.
8 WEEK BEGINNER COURSE
Wanting to get started but don’t know where to start? I’ve created a programme that is a TRANSFORMATIONAL 8 WEEK COURSE. It teaches you how to practice yoga, how to control your mind and how to love your body.
You will gain confidence, you will gain strength, you will gain flexibility, you will gain knowledge and you will feel empowered with my proven step by step process – THIS IS THE COURSE YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.
BUT FIRST: HOW THE HECK DO I KNOW WHICH BLOCK TO GET?
There are generally three different sizes that are used:
9″ x 6″ x 4: Wider than traditional blocks
9″ x 6″ x 3: The average yoga block size
9″ x 6″ x 2: Thinner than average yoga blocks
I have always really liked the traditional yoga block size but if you have smaller hands, you might not want to get the thickest blocks as they will be hard for you to grip.
The thin yoga blocks can be useful as you are building up your flexibility and do not need as much support anymore. Or perhaps if you’re already quite flexible and mobile naturally.
I suggest starting out with the traditional size of 9″ x 6″ x 3, this is usually a good starting point for everyone. The great thing about all blocks is that they will have lots of options for height and width when you turn them onto their different sides. Once you’ve started practising you’ll realise what feels the best and what you might need. Luckily the blocks aren’t expensive and you’ll ALWAYS find a use for them!
Check out blocks here:
Or YOUR LOCAL YOGA STUDIO!
1. Seated Pose-Easy Pose
Don’t let the name fool you. Most westerners really struggle with sitting on the ground. Our hamstrings and tight, our backs are tight and our hip flexors are tight. We are too dependent on chairs and couches and never have to use our back to keep up upright or take our hips beyond the point of flexion in our chair position.
This means right from the get-go of a yoga class (often classes will start and end in the posture) you’re already squirming and struggling.
Now what happens if you pop your trusty block under your bum?
Well, it becomes easier. You alleviate the pressure on the back, the hip flexors and the hammies.
You will still be working hard trust me. You are still not supported as much as you would be in a chair so the body is getting stronger. BUT if you don’t use the blocks you will round your shoulders and your lower back only closing off the body and collapsing in the spine.
Maybe one day you won’t need that block under your bum, or maybe you’ll always need it, that really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get yourself into the pose, you can breath and you can sit upright.
Sit cross legged or with the legs out if you can’t cross them yet. Pop one, two or three blocks under your bum. This will lift the hips and take pressure out of the lower back and hips.
Set your alarm and see if you can sit here for up to 5 minutes doing a focused breathing exercise or meditation. You could start with So Hum. On the inhale say ‘so’ in your head and on the exhale say ‘hum’.
2. CHILDS POSE
Here’s another pose you’ll hear your yoga teacher calling out as a ‘restorative posture‘. This just isn’t true for many-especially my beginners!
Child’s pose is asking a lot of those hip flexors, groins and shoulders. And this is where a block, or a few blocks, can really come in handy.
Place the big toes to touch and take the knees as wide as you will comfortable. With time you might be able to get the knees as wide as your mat but don’t worry if this doesn’t happen right away.
Start to walk the hands forward and place a block under the head if it doesn’t reach the mat easily. If those hips are super tight don’t be shy-pop a block or 2 under the bum as well.
Over time you can turn your block to the thinner edge and maybe one day you won’t need it at all!
If you can get comfortable here see if you can hold for a couple minutes. Maybe notice if the longer you hold the less you need the block to support the bum.
3. LIZARD POSE
Lizard pose is a favourite from many yoga teachers because of it’s incredible hip opening abilities and it’s versatility. However-when you’re new to yoga and you’ve got locked up hips lizard can cause all kinds of problems.
First of all, getting the hands comfortably on the mat to support your weight whilst in the pose can be a nightmare. Secondly, if you’re trying to take some of the intensity out of the stretch in the hips you’re going to start rounding your back and lose the opening and purpose of the pose.
So what’s the solution? Well obviously folks it’s those trusty blocks!
Start in table top (all fours) and step on foot forward. Sink forwards with the hips and make sure your front knee isn’t going past the ankle. Place the blocks under the hands on whichever setting you need to be able to list the chest so it’s facing forward and the shoulders aren’t rounding.
You might want to start with only 30-60 second holds a side here until you get the strength in the shoulders and wrists to support your weight for longer.
4. PACHIMOTTONASANA - SEATED FORWARD FOLD
So here is a pose that really gets you acquainted with your hamstrings. These are those pesky muscles on the backs of your legs that are, oh so often, exceptionally tight!
You can use a block (or a few blocks) in a couple ways here.
- If you want to work on keeping your spine straight place the block under your bum and sit up. If you’re still rounding in the back place another block under the bum.
- Another option is to take the pose more passively. Here you can allow you spine to round. You might still need a block under the bum but then you can create a little tower of blocks on the thighs and allow the head to drop down onto them.
In either pose hold for up to 5 minutes, again starting with 30-60 seconds is a great place to begin from.
5. SQUAT POSE
You might be noticing a pattern with when blocks are needed for beginners and a lot of the times it has to to with the hips.
One of the biggest hip openers is the dreaded squat pose. I can literally feel the air in the room change when I tell my students we are coming into a squat. This is a challenging pose for many well beyond the beginner stage of their practice.
I really want my beginners to start to feel comfortable and at home in their squat position rather than coming into it, holding their breath and then collapsing onto the floor. So here’s where that third block you bought ‘just in case’ comes in handy.
Place a block, 2 blocks or maybe 3 blocks on top of each other. (I would recommend the flattest setting as they won’t tip over) Then my friend just slowly start to lower yourself down onto the little seat you’ve created. You want your knees going out in the same direction as the hips and you want your heels on the floor. If the heels are lifting try taking the feet further apart.
You might want to start small with your hold time in squat. I want you to take it easy and not get yourself frustrated. Do a 30 second hold stand up and move around and then see if you can do another 30 seconds. Slowly start to build this time up to a minute or MORE!
GIVE IT A GO!
Right pop over to your local yoga studio or shop or if you have to head to Amazon to get your hands on some blocks.
As soon as those blocks arrive pop this 20 minute class on and enjoy the benefits of using your blocks. Hopefully you’ll feel like you’ve got more space in the hips, hamstrings and that you’re sitting up taller too!