When doing yoga, the use of yoga props is essential for beginners or advanced yogis, as they help you as a support for alignment, flexibility and for deepening the pose. Blocks are the main props used for its multiple uses and practicality.
In the following post you are going to learn about how to use them and our top 5 warming up exercises with them.
At Happyfish Bali – Yoga retreat you are going to learn how to use blocks during the poses, and here we will share our top 5 yoga asanas with blocks.
Why using yoga blocks?
Yoga blocks are used during the whole practice of yoga, they are great for the warm-up to get you deeper in the stretch, and during the yoga practice as a support in more advanced and balancing poses or for deepening the pose.
Yoga blocks can help to reach the next level of your practice. For example when you are going to start with some new challenging poses or balancing ones.
Using yoga blocks for your warming up are perfect for stretching and getting ready for your yoga workout.
About yoga blocks
There are multiple types of yoga blocks, depending on the material used, for example EVA foam and cork blocks, the hardness…
Foam yoga blocks
EVA Foam yoga blocks are very light and weightless, so they are very handy to carry and use. Also the feel of the foam blocks is quite soft, it’s a nice and gentle support for joints and bones, and that’s why they can also be used as a seat for your meditation practice. From EVA Foam you can also find different hardness, so you can choose regarding your level, use and expectations.
Cork yoga blocks
On the other hand, Cork yoga blocks are harder, giving more support in a yoga posture. They are great for yoga poses where you need more stability and balance as they serve as a solid base, an extra leg!. The cork substance is stronger and harder than EVA foam.
More about the difference? Read: EVA foam vs cork yoga blocks
5 yoga block exercises for warming up
Now let’s talk about our 5 yoga block exercises (asanas) that are great for your warming up or during the practice depending on your flexibility and body condition.
1: Extended Child’s Pose (Balasana)
First, position your blocks parallel on the top of the mat, shoulder width distance.
Kneel on the floor, knees and thighs touching each other, pelvis over the feet, spine straight towards the ceiling. Lean forward, bringing your belly and chest to the thighs. Extend your arms forward and place the hands over the blocks.
Make sure that the wrists are aligned with the shoulders, palms facing the block. The addition of the blocks to the standard Child’s pose will deeply open your chest and shoulders.
2: Downward facing dog
Downward Facing Dog is one of the main asanas. It stretches and strengthens the whole body.
For the first Downward Facing Dog of your practice, we would recommend a dynamic movement from a table top position to the actual pose.
You can start with your hands on the blocks and knees on the floor. Place your knees below your hips and your wrists under the shoulders.
As you inhale open your chest in a cow position and as you exhale lift your knees away from the floor coming to Downward Facing Dog. First, you can keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Slowly start stretching the back of the legs, one at a time, and pressing the heel to the floor. Focus on pointing the pelvis to the ceiling, this is the peak area of the pose. Spread your hands, extend your arms and lengthen both sides of the torso to the pelvis. Your head is between the upper arms, gaze to the feet and your chest leaning to the thighs.
You should focus on creating two straight lines, one from the hands to the pelvis, and the other from the pelvis to the heels.
3: Extended Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana)
Step with one leg back, the front foot and knee are pointing forward and bended in 90º angle, the back foot is pointing to the site and the hips are in a diagonal position. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder down, away from the ears, palms down.
Finally, as you exhale bring the same arm of the front leg outside (or inside) the leg, with the support of the block under the palm. Point with the other hand forward above the head and open the chest. Turn you gaze upward.
4. Supported bridge
This is the resting variation of Bridge pose and it opens your back and pelvis as you are able to release any physical effort and allow the gravity to sink your body over the block and mat.
To go into Supported Bridge, first perform the bridge pose by lying on your back, bend the knees placing the heels close to the buttocks. Arms parallel to the body, palms facing down. As you inhale press the soles of the feet and upper back and arms to the mat, lifting the pelvis, and slide the block under the sacrum.
You can play with the different heights of the block depending on your back flexibility.
If you want to go deeper, you can extend your legs and completely release the weight of your body over the block.
5: Reclining Hero Pose
This is a resting pose that deeply stretches the legs and opens the chest and upper back.
Prepare the blocks, they should be in perpendicular directions: the one for your head standing high, and the one for you back following the spinal direction in a medium high.
Sit in a Hero’s pose, kneel with your inner knees and thighs touching and feet slightly apart from the hips, straight back.
As you exhale lower your upper back toward the floor, first leaning on the hands, then your forearms and elbows, supporting the spine along the block. Then finish resting your back of the head over the block
(like the blue yoga blocks on the picture).
Key takeaways for yoga block exercises for warming up
These 5 yoga block exercises for warming up are great to stretch out the body before starting off your day, or as a warming up before your workout. It is always good to stretch out your body
For more yoga exercises read: 5 yoga poses to practice first thing in the morning