Yoga props are not just for beginners. In reality, using props can benefit even the most advanced student. Whether you want to challenge yourself more by using props or you want to slow things down for a more restorative class, props come in handy.
Below are some ways even more experienced students can use yoga blocks to make the practice more challenging.
1. Baddha Konasana
For a more challenging Baddhakonasana, or Bound-Angle Pose, you can use the block between your feet. Come into your regular pose, separate your feet and place the block between them. The block can be placed so that the narrow side is facing up and you can press the bottom of your feet into the wider sides.
Notice if this stretches your inner thighs more. If you can, hold on to your ankles and try to fold forward as you would regularly, without forcing the fold and without rounding the spine. If you can't hold on to your ankles, keep your hands on the floor behind you.
If you are not feeling much of a difference in the pose, you can turn the blocks to the middle width and try it that way. Your feet will be further apart now. Make sure that this is not causing any strain in the knees.
2. Warrior III
Place the block on your mat, wide side facing up. Step your left foot on to the block. Bring your hands to your hips and nhale as you lift your right leg, knee bent.
Begin to hinge forward at the hips sending the right leg straight back coming into your Warrior III. Keep your hands on your hips, or extend the arms forward while balancing on your block. After about 5 breaths, begin to come out of the pose, bending the right knee and lifting it high. Step down. Repeat on the other side.
Sit tall, with your legs extended forward in Staff Pose. Grab your block between the hands and take your arms straight out in front of you, the narrow side edges of the block between your hands, wide side facing you.
Raise your arms overhead. Your arms should be at about shoulder distance. Hold there for up to 30 seconds, lower the arms straight out in front and repeat. Try not to focus on the arms, but on the breath instead.
4. Chair Pose
As in Dandasana above, take the block between your hands, this time coming up into chair pose. Reach the arms up, lining them up with your ears. Keep the knees back so as to see your toes if you look down and send the sitting bones back as well. Notice any arching in the back, and try tilt the pelvis back to reduce arching. Hold for up to 30 seconds and repeat.
5. Bridge Pose
Place the block between your inner thighs, squeezing into the block to activate the inner thighs and energize your pose. As you lift the hips, keep squeezing the block.
Lift the hips as high as is comfortable for you. Hold for up to 1 minute and repeat. Here's a good visual.
How do you incorporate yoga blocks into your asana practice? Share your tips and favorite modifications below!
Image credit: Meagan McCrary / Nir Livni Photography