There seem to be two types of yogis in the world: the ones who walk straight past the prop nook at their yoga studio without a second glance and the ones who go all in with two yoga blocks, a bolster, and a set of sandbags.
You can reap a vast array of benefits while practicing bare-bones-style yoga. However, adding a few props to your practice can help you go even deeper.
“Modifications are signs of wisdom, not weakness,” says Aaptiv trainer Ceasar F. Barajas. “Modifications are signs that you know your body. So what better way to advance who you are as a person than by taking what might be your weakness and creating it and making it an actual win?”
Below, Barajas breaks down five moves that feel even more luxurious when you enlist the help of a couple yoga blocks.
Once you sink into your usual child’s pose, Barajas recommends grabbing your blocks, extending your arms forward, and placing one hand on each block (about shoulder-width apart). “You’re now getting a deeper stretch throughout the shoulders. It allows for a greater range of motion over time,” he says.
If you have a more advanced practice, bring the yoga blocks underneath your elbows, bending them so that your palms fall at the nape of your neck in prayer.
Supta Baddha Konasana
To release your shoulders, back, and hips in one fell swoop, Barajas says to move into a supported version of supta baddha konasana, or reclining bound angle pose. Come into savasana lying on your back. Bring the soles of your feet together, so your legs make a diamond shape. Prop yourself up onto your elbows, and place the blocks lengthwise underneath your shoulder blades and head. Let yourself sink into the yoga blocks.
“Fish traditionally calls for you to prop your elbows up and then sort of lean back on your own shoulders. But for someone like me, I have a little bit more muscle mass. So I can’t really get my elbows together,” Barajas says.
“I’ll just put a block, and then I’ll get the same benefits of fish pose, which is ideally a heart-opener. It’s just a nice way to open up and give your back a nice little stretch.” For this stretch, use the same block placement as you did above in supta baddha konasana.
Balancing Half Moon Pose
Even if your balance is on point, Barajas advises placing your bottom hand on a block to elongate your arm. The extra length will offer the space and support you need to move into more challenging variations of half moon.
“Rather than worrying about using fingertips to support [you], elevate the body, use the block for support, and now you can work on maybe right hand grabbing right ankle,” he says. Once you feel stable, try experimenting with revolved half moon.
Extended Side Angle Pose
If the floor is just out of reach for you in this pose, Barajas suggests placing your hand on a block directly outside your front foot. This allows you to elongate both sides of your torso and focus on opening your chest toward the ceiling.
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