Play with Your Blocks

Funny how a lot of things come full circle in life. It may not be exactly the same as before, but what you used to do or know can be experienced with a new perspective. In this case, I am talking about blocks. As a kid, it was fun to play with the blocks and use your imagination in creating something. Take that memory of creativity with the blocks and bring it to your yoga practice.

I used the blocks when I started practicing yoga; however,I stopped using them when I thought I did not need them anymore. Several years of practice later...I've realized, just like the blocks I played with as a kid, they're not just for building a foundation. The best use of the block is to experience a new sensation of balance, utilization of a different muscle, and the re-ignition of the creative source in the mind. I thought I was too experienced (old...in kid mindset)to use blocks. I was wrong.

Here are some ways to use those blocks in your practice. Once you get started, you are destined to discover something new!

1. In forward fold, stand each foot squarely on a block. Observe the initial challenge of integrating balance. Inhale as you raise the arms up and exhale on a slow forward fold. Notice that the hands may go further than you expected. Gravity really does make a difference! You can even place two small weights in front of you to use to pull down further. It helps you engage the arms while further lengthening the hamstrings. The intention is not to lift the weights, but rather use them as an anchor.

2. Do repetitions of Downward Dog and Up Dog with your hands on blocks instead of the mat. You get a deeper arch in both directions and engage a few more arm muscles by using the block to grip on. Feels great on the back.

3. When doing bridge, set each foot on a block. Use the same concept of getting the feet as close to your fingertips as possible. When you lift up that pelvis in bridge, you will go higher and give that back a nicer arch. Try it first without the blocks; then, add the blocks. You will notice the difference. If able, link hands to engage arms and back while in block bridge. Keep those knees in line with the hips and feel the greater opening of the chest while in the pose.

4. Still in bridge mode, if you have 3 blocks, use two for the feet and one to put between the knees. With that block between the knees, you keep the right width distance and feel the glutes get a little more action.

5. Thread the needle: Again, amazing difference by elevating yourself a few inches. Place each hand on a block. Follow the same principle of keeping hands in line with shoulders and knees in line with hips. As you inhale and raise one arm up, keep the other arm engaged as you hold gently on block. Reach high and thread that arm through until you settle onto the shoulder. Keep other hand on block and notice a little deeper twist by doing this. Or, do repetitions of thread the needle with the block.

6. Use those blocks as you practice Warrior 3. Place the blocks so that they will be tall and lift one leg up for Warrior 3; however, keep hands on blocks. Get neck in line with spine, dorsi flex foot, and take time experiencing a full engaged extended leg without the wobble. Use the balance to determine if abdomen is parallel to floor vs. tilted. As you feel the foundation solidify from the ground up, then extend the arms. Notice the difference of the practice as you take time to experience each nuance of the pose.

7. While in cobbler pose, do the ususal process of bringing feet together as close to the body as possible while keeping a straight spine. Then, place blocks underneath feet. You will immediately notice a little more edge integrated in the hips. Keep spine straight and gently bring yourself forward...leading with heart over legs. You may not go as far as you usually do because you are lengthening muscles from a different angle. Enjoy the difference.

The possibilities are unlimited. Just get those blocks out and get that creative mind moving with the body. Just like it was fun to build something different, it seems even more fun feeling something differently...just by using your blocks! Enjoy your practice while living the joy of a child's mindset simply by playing with blocks~
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