Create Space In Your Postures

If a yoga newbie asked what a block was for, the answer would most likely be, to bring the ground up to you.  That’s a perfect answer because that’s what it often does.

There’s this idea about yoga blocks that they’re ideally used for beginner poses, and eventually, you should no longer need them.  However, at some point, as your practice moves into more intermediate and advanced postures, you may want to use the block to create more space in the postures.  Perhaps your back could use a bit more room to lengthen in Wheel or you need an extra few inches to lift up into Lolasana.

Please keep in mind that these postures are all intermediate to advanced poses.  If you’ve never tried them before, make sure you’re attempting them under the guidance of a knowledgable yoga instructor.  As always, be safe and respect your body when it’s letting you know it’s time to stop doing a certain posture.

Wheel | Urdvha Dhanurasana

Try adding the blocks under your feet or hands to give you an extra lift.  This can be especially helpful if wheel causes a certain amount of strain to the back.  The blocks help create the space needed to lengthen the spine as you lift into the posture.  Having the blocks under your hands is particularly beneficial if you have sensitive wrists.  If you find that your blocks are sliding, try placing them against the wall for a little added support.

Cork Yoga Blocks

Cork Yoga Blocks

Cork Yoga Blocks

L-Sit

Whether you’re interested in some serious strength work or you’re practicing jumping through, adding blocks can help create the lift you need for an L-sit.  You’ll be able to maintain length throughout your spine and the stability of your shoulders with blocks under the hands.

Cork Yoga Blocks

Pendant Pose | Lolasana Or Tadagi Mudra | Raised Lotus

Blocks could be used here for either lolasana (not pictured, knees are bent and in between the hands) or tadagi mudra (balancing on hands in lotus position).  Place your blocks under your hands to give yourself the ability to lift up, without having to fold forward to reach the floor.

Cork Yoga Blocks

Chin Stand | Ganda Bherundasana

Chin stand can be extremely challenging.  If you’re not quite ready for that level of balance, but want to play with the posture, try placing blocks under the shoulders.  The blocks will help support you as you lift your feet up, but also prevent you from falling right down on your face!

Cork Yoga Blocks

Firefly Pose | Titibasana

If you have ever played with Firefly pose, you know how awkward it can be to get your hands on the floor and your feet out in front of you.  Place the blocks under your hands to give you an extra lift up.  Once the blocks are under your hands you may notice that you have the ability to lift the feet and extend your legs in front of you.

Cork Yoga Blocks

Tortoise Pose | Kurmasana

Placing blocks under your feet in Kurmasana gives you the space to bring your torso under the feet so you can move deeper into the posture.

Cork Yoga Blocks

Special Thanks to Dikla Kafka-Hamudot for posing for these photos.  You can find her teaching yoga at Bala Yoga in Kirkland, Yoga Bliss on Mercer Island, and Sattva Yoga in Redmond.

Don’t have your own set of blocks yet?  You can purchase beautiful cork yoga blocks that I designed right over on Amazon!  Not only are they beautiful, they’ll be wonderfully supportive to your practice for years to come!

Crow Pose Modifications

Yoga Blocks

Try Crow Pose With These Modifications

Bakasana or Crow Pose as it’s commonly referred to is one of the first true arm balances you might encounter in your asana practice.  This pose can be quite challenging as you first begin attempting to work into it.  There are many things that go into the posture including arm strength, core strength, and proper hand placement.  If you don’t quite feel ready to work into the balance unassisted, try the following modifications to help you master your first arm balance!

If you don’t already have a solid set of yoga blocks for your practice, you can find them for sale on Etsy and Amazon


Use blocks under your feet for liftoff As you squat down and prep yourself for Bakasana, place a block under your feet to give you a little liftoff.  One of the most difficult things to do when you start your arm balancing practice is simply lifting your feet off of the floor.  By giving yourself a small boost you may find it easier to lift your toes up and play with balance.  Lift one foot at a time, until you’re able to pick both feet up.
Yoga Blocks
Yoga Blocks


Place a Block Under Your Head allowing you to feel supported as you lift your feet from the floor.  Having a block will give you the ability to focus more attention on lifting your feet rather than keeping your head off the floor.  It may also help you get over the fear of having your head off of the ground.

Yoga Blocks


Place Your Hands On Blocks This modification will help you create some space.  One of the most difficult parts of this pose is forcing your body into a tight ball before lifting up.  If you struggle to get into a deep squat, this modification gives you the space you might need to be able to lift up the hips. Once your hips are up, your feet will naturally start to lift from the floor.

Yoga Blocks


Bonus! If you’ve already mastered the art of this beginner arm balance, try lifting up with a block between your feet.  This will challenge you to fully engage the core and focus.

Yoga Blocks

 

Blocks are currently available for sale on Etsy and Amazon with more buying options coming soon!

Week 2 | Endure | Yoga For The Core

Yoga for Core Strength
Reblogged from Seattle Yoga News

 

This week is all about building endurance. We’ve set our base last week with core stabilization poses, now we can really work on building onto our poses.

Plank Crunches
  1. Start in high plank position: Ensure that the shoulders are aligned over the wrists, and spread your fingers as you press down onto your knuckles and palm. Distribute the weight evenly across your hands (grounding of the 4 corners of your hand). Keep your legs straight with your toes tucked under your feet and facing forward. Imagine a long line extending from your head to your heels which keeps your abdomen, legs, and bottom engaged. Draw power in your plank and breath, take a moment to find your base.
  2. As you exhale, engage your pelvic floor to stabilize yourself, then begin to lift your right leg up and back. Draw power in your balance.
  3. As you inhale, extend your left arm up and forward, continue pressing the mat away and engaging your pelvic floor as you balance.
  4. Once you’ve found stability, exhale as you begin to round your spine while keep your core engaged. Bend your elbow and knee to touch beneath your belly. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  5. On the next inhale, re-extend the limb.
  6. Repeat this sequence for 3 – 5 reps, then engage on the opposing limbs.

Yoga for Core Strength

Plank Crunches: Extended Opposite Arm and Leg

 Yoga for Core Strength

Plank Crunches: Opposite Knee to Elbow

 

Side Plank Crunches
  1. As we build onto our plank sequence, start again in high plank. Keep your pelvic floor engaged and abs flexed. As you begin to exhale, shift your weight onto your right palm and extend your left arm towards the sky. Turn your right foot onto its knifes edge as you stack the left side of the body over the right. Hips and shoulders should be stacked directly on top of one another.
  2. Extend your left forearm over your ear as you inhale. As you exhale, simultaneously bend the elbow and knee to touch. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  3. On the next inhale, re-extend the limbs.
  4. Repeat this sequence 3 – 5 times, then repeat on the opposite side.Yoga for Core Strength
Side Plank with Extended Arm to Front

Yoga for Core Strength


Side Plank Elbow to Knee

 

Dolphin Plank and Legs In + Out
  1. Lie on your belly with your elbows directly under your wrists and your feet hips width apart.
  2. Brace your core and shift your weight onto your forearms and toes. Lift your hips off of your mat and hold. Image a long line extending from your shoulders to your heels as your breath through your plank.
  3. As you exhale, jump your feet past hips width and hold your plank. Your feet will be wide and possibly land off the mat.
  4. On your next inhale, jump your feet back together onto your mat at hips width.
  5. Repeat for 5 – 10 breaths, keeping your core engaged throughout.
  6. Yoga for Core Strength
Dolphin Plank Pose
Eagle (Garudasana) Crunches
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and cross your left leg over your right (if you can, attempt to tuck the right foot behind the left calf).
  2. In similar fashion, cross your arms with your left arm on top of your right (if you can, attempt to have the forearms cross and palms meet).
  3. Engage pelvic muscles on your next breath in and on your exhale, bend your knees and elbows to touch. Lift your chest and engage your core as your knees and elbows meet.
  4. On your next breath in, lie back and extend your limbs back in neutral position.
  5. Repeat for 5 – 10 breaths.
Yoga for Core Strength
Supine Garudasana Arms and Legs

Yoga for Core Strength

Bring the Elbows and Knees to Touch in Supine Garudasana

This 4 week sequence is brought to you by Diana Ratana of Diana Ratana Yoga.  Diana took her first yoga class at the age of 16 and from there, she quickly fell in love with the compassion, kindness, energy, and confidence she gained from yoga. What began as a means to get fit turned into a lifelong passion. Today, she instructs at Hot Feet Fitness where she regularly uses the lessons and tools learned from practice in her day to day life and vice versa. Her mission is to teach others how to learn from yoga and put their best foot forward to gain the most from their lives as well.

Week 1 | Stabilize | Yoga For The Core

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga For The Core

Reblogged from Seattle Yoga News

Our goal for this week is to set the base for our practice. The set of poses for this week aim to stabilize and strengthen our core. Repeat this sequence daily as we build strength for our core flow sequence next week.

Cat/Cow
  1. Start in table top position, take a moment to find yourself on your mat. Ensure that the shoulders are aligned over the wrist, hips over knees.
  2. As you inhale, press the mat away from you as you lift your chest and tailbone towards the sky. Let the belly sink towards the earth. Lift your head to look forward. You are now in Cow Pose.
  3. As you exhale, round the spine, continue pressing the mat away as you tuck the chin towards your chest and tailbone in. Keep the belly drawn in and spine curved towards the sky. You are now in Cat Pose.
  4. Repeat this sequence 3 – 5 times.
Yoga for Core Strength
Cow Pose
Yoga for Core Strength
Cat Pose

Cat and Cow Crunches

  1. As we build onto our cat/cow sequence, start again in table top. Extend your left arm forward in alignment with your shoulder. Extend the opposite right leg back in alignment with your hip. Keep your belly drawn as we hold in our balance for a few breaths.
  2. As you exhale, begin to curl the spin back into cat pose while simultaneously bending the elbow and drawing the knee and elbow to touch beneath your belly. Keep your belly drawn throughout.
  3. On the next inhale, re-extend the limbs to meet back in extended table top.
  4. Repeat steps 1 – 3 for 10 breaths, being sure to sync your breath to your movements.
  5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 on the opposing limbs.

Yoga for Core Strength

Yoga for Core Strength

Boat Pose (Navasana)
  1. Sit on your mat with your legs extended forward in a comfortable seat. Draw your belly in to protect your lower spine as you begin to lift through the top of your sternum and lean back from your seat (feel free to place your hands on your mat for support). Make sure your spine doesn’t round as you lean back. Keep the chest moving forward in Navasana.
  2. Begin to balance on the seat of your two sitting bones and tailbone as you lift your feet from your mat. Keep your belly drawn as you exhale and draw your feel to half-mast (knee level). Option to extend legs into full boat.
  3. Draw your arms to shoulders level as you hold your pose. Hold for 5 – 10 full breaths.

Yoga for Core Strength

Dolphin Plank
  1. Lie on your belly with your elbows directly under your wrists and your feet hips width apart.
  2. Brace your core and shift your weight onto your forearms and toes. Lift your hips off of your mat and hold. Image a long line extending from your shoulders to your heels as your breath through your Dolphin Plank.
  3. Hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.
  4. Option to hold plank on your knees as needed.

Yoga for Core Strength

Side Dolphin Planks
  1. From Dolphin Plank, begin to shift to the right side of your body; shifting your weight onto your right forearm and the knife’s edge of your right foot.
  2. Keep your core tight and hips lifted as you extend your left arm towards the sky.
  3. Hold the post for 5 – 10 breaths.

Yoga for Core Strength

Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
  1. Lie on your belly and forearms with your elbows bent and placed directly underneath the shoulders.
  2. As you inhale, lift your upper torso and head away from the floor in a slight upper back backbend.
  3. Use the traction from the arms to lengthen through the belly and lower back. Hold the pose for 5 – 10 breaths.

Yoga for Core Strength

 

This 4 week sequence is brought to you by Diana Ratana of Diana Ratana Yoga.  Diana took her first yoga class at the age of 16 and from there, she quickly fell in love with the compassion, kindness, energy, and confidence she gained from yoga. What began as a means to get fit turned into a lifelong passion. Today, she instructs at Hot Feet Fitness where she regularly uses the lessons and tools learned from practice in her day to day life and vice versa. Her mission is to teach others how to learn from yoga and put their best foot forward to gain the most from their lives as well.

Use Blocks To Work On Jump Throughs

How To Use Yoga Blocks

Trying to master a jump through can be very challenging and often overwhelming.  In this post, you’ll see how to use blocks to give you a little boost in the process along with some additional modifications.  I would absolutely recommend cork blocks for this over foam as they’re much more supportive.

  1. Start with the blocks in between the hands as you lift into downward dog.  Make sure you have a solid foundation and that the blocks are nicely in place.
  2. Lift onto the toes as you begin to build energy, preparing to jump through.
  3. Bend at the knees as you lift the hips up (if you’re not quite ready to jump, you can also slide your right foot up so it’s behind your left hand, and then your left foot behind your right hand, crossing your feet just behind the blocks.  If you do this, you’ll work on lifting the feet off the ground from here and into an L-Sit which may take quite some time to get to)
  4. As you jump through you’ll cross your legs before bringing your feet all the way through to an L-Sit.

Practice this regularly and over time you’ll build enough strength and stability to jump through without the blocks.

Of course, if you don’t have yoga blocks, you can swing over to my Etsy or Amazon stores to purchase a set of the blocks used in these photos.  Check back here to find more ideas on how to use yoga blocks to improve your Asana!

Thanks to Audrey Sutton of Blissful Soul for posing for the photos!
How To Use Yoga Blocks

How To Use Yoga Blocks

How To Use Yoga Blocks

How To Use Yoga Blocks

How To Use Yoga Blocks

Yoga Blocks For Inversions

Yoga Blocks

Have you ever wondered how you can use yoga blocks to take your practice a bit further?  There are so many resources out there that show you how to use blocks to modify postures, and often times people think the only use for blocks is to make a posture easy.  However, there are a million different ways that you can use blocks!

 

I’ve prepared a lovely series of posts for anyone curious about using yoga blocks.  Here you’ll find ways to use blocks for certain poses, how to change common poses to advance your practice, and of course how to modify many poses to suit your body.

Today we’ll be taking a look at a few different ways to use a set of yoga blocks as you learn to practice inversions.  Before you attempt to go upside down, make sure to get an OK from your doctor and understand the many precautions about an upside down practice which include high blood pressure, headaches and neck or shoulder injury.

Pincha Mayurasana: Place the block between your hands to keep your hands in place as you lift your feet up.

Yoga Blocks

Yoga Blocks

 

Tripod Headstand:  I LOVE this modification!  Place several blocks (enough to support the shoulders) in two stacks.  Place your head right in between and liftoff!  Yoga Blocks

Yoga Blocks

 

Headstand: Place two blocks in front of you to rest your toes on.  This modification will help you get your feet off of the ground if you’re working on lifting up to headstand with straight legs.

Yoga Blocks

Yoga Blocks

 

Stay tuned for more ways to use your yoga blocks!  Coming up you’ll find out how to use blocks for arm balances, restorative yoga, core strength and handstands!  Get your own set of beautifully designed cork yoga blocks so you can advance your practice as well!

If you don’t already have a set of blocks for yourself, you can use the coupon code HOLIDAY for free shipping from my Etsy shop! This coupon is good on domestic shipping only when you buy 2 or more blocks. Offer is valid through the end of the New Year. Order by Monday 12/19 to allow for enough time before Christmas.

Thank you so much to Julie from Inner Sanctum Yoga, the only DuPont, WA Yoga Studio, for posing!