How To Use Yoga Blocks And Straps For Home Exercises
Yoga offers a lot of props to enhance your ability to express a yoga pose. Yet, some yogis and yoga enthusiasts think that by using yoga blocks and straps, they aren't really "doing" yoga. To them, it feels like cheating. But, this is something you shouldn't be ashamed of. Many advanced yogis and teachers use them regularly as part of their yoga practice. Yoga blocks and straps are excellent yoga props to help you gain more flexibility and access postures that feel impossible to do. In this article, we are going to discuss the steps on how to use yoga blocks and straps.
How to Use Yoga Blocks (5 Easy Poses You Can Do at Home)
The key to using yoga blocks properly is to avoid placing the bulk of your weight on the block. Instead, you want the majority of your weight to stretch those muscles you are trying to elongate and then use the block to prevent straining.
There are a lot of asanas where you can use your yoga blocks. Below are just some of the best poses that you can try at home. I recommend that you keep your yoga blocks by your side during your asanas so you can use them every time you need a boost.
1. Forward Folds
The forward fold is one of the most beneficial poses for yogis, especially newbies, to be comfortable with their new yoga blocks. To perform a forward fold:
- Place your yoga block flat on the ground.
- Sit on your yoga block and extend your legs straight out in front of your body with shoulder-width apart.
- Reach your arms up into the air, breathe out and lean forward while trying to grab your toes. If you can't grab your toes, grab your shins or use a yoga strap for support.
- Hold the pose for about 5 to 10 breaths and release.
2. Pigeon Pose
The Pigeon Pose can be a bit of a challenge for new yogis (especially the lying Pigeon Pose). If you lack flexibility in your hip or knees, the block will definitely help you in this move. Follow these steps on how to use yoga blocks in the seated pigeon pose:
- Kneel on the mat with your knees shoulder-width apart and your arms at your side.
- Stretch one leg straight back behind you while bringing the other leg forward and across your body. The majority of your weight will be on the front leg.
- Position your yoga block underneath the sit bone of the leg that is across your body. This will help you manage a slightly forward tilt and take the pressure off your knees.
- Stick your heart out and hold the pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
3. Bridge Pose
In a bridge pose, the yoga block will help you keep your thighs shoulder-distance apart and keep your knees aligned. To perform a bridge pose with a yoga block:
- Lie down on your mat face up with your arms at your sides, and your legs relaxed and shoulder-width apart.
- Place your yoga block in between your thighs just above the knee.
- Taking a breath, gently press the block between your thighs and lift up from the buttocks and midsection.
- Focus on holding the block in place as you hold the pose for 5-10 breaths and then release.
4. Downward Dog
This pose is definitely a favorite. And while it may look too simple to be amazing, trust me, it’s one of the best poses to get right. To perform downward dog with yoga blocks:
- Begin by getting on all fours on your yoga mat. Place the two yoga blocks shoulder-width apart underneath your palms.
- Ensure your fingers are spread and pointing towards the top of your yoga mat.
- Draw your belly in and tighten your core. Press your hands into the blocks and lift up into an “A” frame.
- Relax your head, take 5 to 10 breaths, and release.
5. Upward Facing Dog
In an upward facing dog, you will position your yoga blocks in the same location as you did in downward dog. To perform this asana:
- Get on all fours on your yoga mat with the blocks below your hands and your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Lean slightly forward, and drop your hips towards the floor. Your hips probably won't touch the floor, but this is natural.
- Pressing your hands into the blocks, push your upper body towards the ceiling to elongate your spine. You should have a strong arch in your back and feel a deep stretch in your hips.
- Hold the pose for 5-10 seconds and relax.
How to Use Yoga Straps (5 Easy Poses You Can Do Today)
1. Side Stretch
To stretch your arms, shoulders, and sides of your body, take hold of your strap a bit wider than shoulder-width. Bending slowly from side to side, stretching and loosening the shoulders and each side of the body.
2. Seated Forward Bend or Paschimottanasana
In opening up, your hamstrings:
- Place the center of the strap around the ball of your feet. Hold on to the ends of the strap and straighten your legs.
- Maintain space between your pubic bone and abdomen, and don't round your lower back. Slowly but surely pull yourself forward.
3. Bound Angle Pose
For stretching your inner thighs and hips, practice the Bound Angle Pose.
- Loop the yoga strap, and put it around your sacrum and below the feet.
- As the yoga strap gets tighter, the closer your legs will be to your body.
- To allow your hips to open, you can also lay down on your back.
4. Reclining Leg Stretch
- Lay down flat on your mat (face up)
- Lift one of your legs by placing the center of the strap on the ball of your foot.
- Slowly lift your foot towards the ceiling to straighten the leg.
- Keep the elbows on the floor and make sure your shoulders aren't strained.
5. Extended Hand to Big Toe
- Create a loop on the end of your yoga strap and put your foot into the circle.
- Gently lift your knee while holding on to the strap with your hand on the same side. Slowly straighten your leg, and use both hands to make the pose.
- Once you are comfortable, place the opposite hand to your waist while holding on to the yoga strap with one hand.
Whether you’re an experienced yogi or just a newbie, using yoga blocks and straps can undoubtedly help your practice. These are probably two of the essential yoga props you can use to facilitate with ease or add challenge to your asanas. Yes, there are countless ways on how to use yoga blocks and straps to your advantage. So start exploring various ways and make it a part of your yoga practice! Namaste!
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