Yoga Blocks 3 Ways

This entry was posted on Oct 8, 2015 by Charlotte Bell.

Yoga Blocks are one of the most essential tools in yoga practice. They give support, keep our joints aligned and allow us to breathe freely. Yoga Blocks were originally developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, who was well known for his insistence on alignment integrity. The three dimensions of standard-sized Yoga Blocks (4″ x 6″ x 9″) were determined by Mr. Iyengar to offer the best choices for stability and versatility.

Hugger Mugger designed our first Yoga Blocks back in the 1980s according to Iyengar’s specifications. Since then, we’ve pioneered the use of softer and lighter materials for maximum comfort without sacrificing safety and stability. Hugger Mugger has also developed a 3-inch-wide block for smaller-framed yogis and a bigger block (The Big Block, 5″ x  12″ x  6.75″) for taller yogis. Here’s a post that describes all the options and how to choose the Yoga Blocks that are best for your personal practice.

While there’s a multitude of ways to use Yoga Blocks, we’d like to offer three to get you started. Each of these poses spotlights different ways that Yoga Blocks can help you maintain optimum alignment.

Downward Facing Dog: Save Your Wrists

Do you feel as if all your weight is collapsing into your hands and wrists in Down Dog? Well, maybe it is. Using Yoga Blocks in Down Dog shifts your center of gravity backward so that your pelvis can connect better with your legs, which alleviates the pressure on your hands and wrists.

Lay two blocks flat on your mat, shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your Yoga Blocks and raise your pelvis toward the sky. There’s no need to straighten the legs. Focus instead on creating a continuous line between your hands and sit bones. Enjoy!

For a more detailed description of Dog Pose, read this blog.

Triangle: Breathe and Expand

Triangle Pose is not about reaching your hand to the floor. It’s about expansion. All too often, the effort to reach the floor compromises the pose’s inherent expanded quality. Elevating your hand by placing a Yoga Block underneath it—whether the block is low, medium or high—can make a huge difference in your ability to expand and breathe freely.

Place a Yoga Block on the outside of your front leg. You might want to try first placing the block on its end. You can always place it on its side or flat on the floor it if you find that you can still breathe easily with it in a lower position. Move into Triangle Pose. Place your bottom hand on the block and root your hand into the block, rather than just leaning on your hand, which drains the energy from your pose. Stay a few breaths before returning to standing. Repeat on the other side.

Read this post for more information on Triangle Pose.

Bound Angle: Support Your Joints

Bound Angle Pose is great for stretching the inner thighs, a movement we don’t often do in day-to-day life. But for some people, Bound Angle Pose can cause knee and/or hip joint discomfort. Placing Yoga Blocks under your thighs allows for a deep stretch without compromising your joints. Yoga Blocks are especially helpful when you’re practicing a Restorative version of Bound Angle, as in the photo. It’s hard to get the full benefit of Restorative practice if your joints are stressed.  Feel free to use Yoga Blocks in either the seated or supine version of Bound Angle Pose. (Using a strap as shown in the photo is optional.)

Sit in Bound Angle Pose. Wedge a block under each thigh to raise your knees slightly. As in Triangle, you can experiment with laying the Yoga Blocks flat or on their sides, depending on the height you need. Breathe and enjoy.

Here’s a post with more info on Bound Angle Pose.

All of Hugger Mugger’s blocks, including the foam blocks linked above, are made from eco-friendly materials. Here are some more options:

For additional ideas on how to use Yoga Blocks, you can visit the Hugger Mugger Props Guide or read through the growing list of posts on this blog in the category, How to Use Yoga Blocks.

About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

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