3 Reasons to Prop Your Practice
(If you're in need of new yoga equipment for your home practice I have a full list of my favorite finds here. )
"I don't need a block, thank you."
I don't mind when someone says this to me. I understand why they truly may feel like a block isn't something they need for their practice. And, when I hear this I also begin to wonder about their idea of props.
Did somewhere along the line did they begin to equate yoga blocks and props as a signal of being less advanced... less able?
Very often to be honest I don't have to wonder too long about the answer to that question. I know that the answer is yes, and as for the reason they are tied to something very predictable - ego.
Somewhere along the line the idea that a yoga prop helps someone who isn't quite there in their practice starts to rub up against how that person wants to feel about their own physicality.
Props are often viewed like training wheels, something you are supposed to graduate and discard. While there are many ways our prop use might decline as we increase our mobility and strength, props - yoga blocks in particular - continue to provide new and interesting opportunities to enhance our practice and introduce new skills. They should be doing anything but growing dust.
To get full use of your yoga blocks one simple switch needs to be made in your mind: recognize that props are equipment, not crutches. When we reframe the way we view props the possibility starts to emerge.
5. Use the Block To Increase Your Range
When it comes to range of motion one of the best ways to use Yoga Blocks is to bring the floor closer to your hands when you are reaching out. This allows you to access the majority of your mobility for the pose from your hip rather than contorting your spine and shoulders to try and reach for the ground.
Give it a try: You can see use technique in any pose where the floor may feel far away Half Moon, Half Forward Fold, Triangle, Extended Side Angle and more!
When is this technique good? Feeling tight in your hammies? Noticing that you cannot 'flatten your back' or you feel the need to turn your chest towards to ground to touch the floor as you get deeper in some of the poses above? Grab a block!
4. Use the block to support your arms and engage your shoulders
Most blocks are several inches wide and are the perfect size to keep your hands and elbows tracking with your shoulders. This is helpful when you are trying to prevent caving in at your chest in poses like dolphin and forearm stand.
Give it a try: Try this technique by placing the block on the ground width-ways and aligning the corners of the block with your thumb and index finger (the L and J of each hand). Then take dolphin pose and notice your ability to apply pressure down into your hands and forearms without caving in.
When is this technique good? Anytime you are reinforcing your shoulder stability it is helpful to use a block to maintain good form and ensure your shoulders and forearms aren't rotating into wonky positions to accommodate your shift in weight.
3. Squeeze a block to engage your inner thighs
Blocks can add an element of challenge to your practice which can be particularly helpful in poses where inner thigh strength is necessary.
Give it a try: Place a block between your thighs in chair, boat or bridge and squeeze it enough that someone wouldn't be able to remove it from its place.
When is this technique good? There are a myriad of ways that this technique is helpful and it boils down to activating sleepy muscles. If you tend to be an external rotator by nature or you don't feel very powerful in your hips or pelvic floor this technique can turn on a chain of muscle reactions that can keep you stable and strong in poses like chair, chair twist, twisted crow, bridge and more!
Did you like this content? Let me know! Try some of these techniques and tell me how it went!
I'd love to you hear from you!
Need some new gear? Here's a list of my must-haves for a home practice.
7/21/2021 01:26:20 pm
For those of us who have never used blocks or straps but want to improve form in some poses where reaching the ground or feet may be a challenge, is there an alternative that might be suggested to try to "prop without propping" or use stuff on hand rather than investing in props?
7/21/2021 04:03:51 pm
Sure you definitely could get creative with objects from home like a step stool, chair, belts and ties. But if you are genuinely into your practice I recommend investing in good equipment if you're able :)
11/13/2021 10:28:45 am
I’m incredibly tight in my hamstrings, I struggle with the step through in sun salutations, can blocks be useful in this regard?? I love using them for down dog and chair poses. Would love to know if you know if there is a greater list of ways to incorporate props, I just purchased your hour long total body workout and I’m dying to try it, you seem like you have a great personality after watching some of the moves! Thank you
1/14/2022 11:52:04 am
Support Julia & buy your blocks from practiceeverywhere.com! I started one of her 30 day yoga videos & am so grateful for her approach to yoga & life!
2/15/2022 12:09:37 am
Thank you for sharing informative content. It means a lot to me hope you do more articles to post.
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Body. Mind. Spirit.
Hi there! You found me. My name is Julia Marie Lopez. For 22 years I have studied meditation and mindful movement as my primary tools for healing. For the past 13 years I have worked as an instructor, a wellness business owner, the Founder of Practice Everywhere, and now I am embarking on a new adventure to expand how we define our Personal and Public Practices.
Since I offer you my experience and perspective, share my writing about life, love and wellness, and offer a bit of unsolicited advice, I think you should also know that I do include affiliate links and promotions in some of blogs. If you make an action (such as sign ups, memberships, or purchases) I might earn a commission. I promise to use this income to support my love of coffee, dogs, yoga, and my family (in no particular order).💜