Yoga Block Exercises: Learn to do Yoga Poses with Blocks

Yoga Block Exercises: Learn to do Yoga Poses with Blocks

Hey yogi, Jack here. Over the years of teaching and practicing yoga, I've come to appreciate how yoga blocks can make a huge difference in my yoga practice. You might think, "Oh, blocks are just for beginners," but I'm here to share with you not just yoga block exercises for beginners but also how to use yoga blocks to advance your practice.

Just as yoga is a journey, not a destination, the yoga block is a stepping stone that can help you to deeper poses, better alignment, and more stability in your practice. It's not only about making the poses accessible, but also about challenging yourself, exploring new dimensions, and, ultimately, transforming your practice.

Why Use Yoga Block Exercises?

Let’s do a little demystifying of yoga blocks. Simply put, yoga blocks are brick-shaped props that are used to support, stabilize, and align the body in various yoga poses. Think of them as an extension of the floor, your yoga mat, or as a tool to change the dynamics of your yoga poses with blocks.

Now, you might ask, "Jack, why should I use a yoga block?" Here's what I learned from my years of practice: yoga blocks are not about making the poses easier, but about making them more effective. 

Yoga blocks allow you to engage the right muscles, maintain the correct alignment, and focus on the essence of the yoga pose with blocks rather than struggling to reach the ground, your feet, or a myriad of other poses that your body isn’t ready for or capable of (and that’s ok).

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block by Asivana Yoga cork yoga blocks

The Right Yoga Block for Exercises

When choosing your yoga block, keep in mind the nature of your practice. Are you looking for support in restorative poses or balance in challenging asanas? Do you prefer the lightweight feel of foam or the firm support of cork? 

There's no one-size-fits-all answer here, and the best yoga block for you is the one that enhances your practice, respects your values, and feels right to you. Just like yoga itself, the choice of yoga block is a personal one.

I invite you to explore the EcoBlock cork yoga block by Asivana Yoga (that’s me!). I’ll explain the different types and sizes of yoga blocks in the ‘Choosing the Right Yoga Block for Your Yoga Practice’ section below after exploring some yoga block exercises.

Yoga Block Exercises for Beginners

If you're new to yoga or just beginning to use yoga blocks into your practice, you're in for a treat. These yoga block exercises will help you understand the value of yoga poses with blocks and how to use them effectively. Yoga isn't necessarily about how a pose looks, it's about how it feels. So, always listen to your body and adjust as necessary.

1) Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

This is a foundational yoga pose that often serves as the starting point for standing poses. Using a yoga block can help you engage your core and maintain alignment. Hold a yoga block between your thighs and activate your inner thighs as if you're trying to squeeze the yoga block. This action helps engage your core and maintain the proper alignment of your hips, improving your posture and balance.

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block by Asivana Yoga used for supported mountain pose tadasana

2) Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Forward bends can be challenging for beginners due to tight hamstrings or limited mobility. In this pose, place a yoga block in front of your feet, and instead of reaching for the floor, rest your hands on your yoga block. You can adjust the height of the yoga block based on your comfort and flexibility.

3) Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Triangle pose is a wonderful stretch, but reaching the ground can be challenging for beginners. Using a yoga block under your lower hand can make the pose more accessible. Start with the yoga block on the highest height and lower it as your flexibility improves.

For some bodies, they do not want to touch the yoga mat in triangle pose and using a yoga block will always put those bodies in the right alignment. To know more, find a local yoga teacher that can observe your body in person.

4) Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

A yoga block can provide support and help you relax in bridge pose, enhancing its benefits. Lie on your back with your knees bent, lift your hips, place a yoga block under your sacrum (the bony part just above your tailbone), and relax your hips onto the yoga block.

5) Child's Pose (Balasana)

Child's pose is a restful, restorative pose. If you find it difficult to bring your hips to your heels, place a yoga block under your sit bones for support. Or on the other end, place a yoga block under your sternum or forehead if your forehead does not want to touch your yoga mat yet.

6) Crow Pose (Bakasana)

The key to this pose is strength: in the arms, the core, and the inner thighs. You can place a yoga block under your forehead to give you a sense of safety and security as you lift your feet off the ground. Alternatively, place two yoga blocks by your feet and step up onto each yoga block one foot at a time. This helps you get a better sense of balance and strength you need to hold crow pose without yoga blocks.

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block by Asivana Yoga used for supported bakasana crow pose

Yoga Block Exercises for Core Strength

Strengthening your core is crucial in yoga, as it promotes stability, balance, and power in many poses. Not to mention, a strong core can help protect you from many injuries.Yoga block exercises that target your core muscles can help strengthen your core using yoga poses with blocks.

1) Boat Pose (Navasana)

This pose is a classic core strengthener. To add an extra challenge, hold a yoga block between your knees. This encourages you to engage your inner thighs and core instead of rounding in the lower back. Start with your knees bent and, as you feel more stable, straighten your legs.

A variation of yoga block exercise for boat pose is to ‘row your boat’ by taking a yoga block in your hands and bringing it to one side of the body then the other like you’re gently rowing down the stream. Bonus points if you sing life is but a dream!

2) Plank Pose

A staple in many exercises, plank pose is an excellent way to work your core. Place a yoga block between your thighs and squeeze it as you hold your plank. This action engages the inner thighs and encourages you to activate your core.

3) Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

While you might not associate bridge pose with core work, lifting and lowering the hips while keeping a yoga block between your thighs can indeed work your core muscles. With the other benefits of bridge pose, this is a gentle core option.

4) Modified Crunches with Yoga Block

Lay on your back and bend your knees to 90 degrees at the hips with knees lifted towards the ceiling and knees bent 90 degrees with feet towards the front of your mat. Place a yoga block on your right thigh, bring your right elbow to the yoga block, and cross your hands behind your head. Crunch your left elbow forward.

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Yoga Block Exercises for Flexibility 

Flexibility is a key aspect of yoga poses with blocks, but it can often feel like a challenging or daunting experience. Don't worry, though! Flexibility comes with time, patience, and practice. And yoga block exercises can be a great way to accomplish your flexibility goals. Try these yoga poses with blocks for a while and you’ll see firsthand your improvement in flexibility.

1) Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

Tight hamstrings? No problem. Place a yoga block in front of your feet and rest your hands on it as you fold forward. With time and consistency, you'll be able to move the yoga block lower or maybe even remove it altogether.

2) Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

The same pose as the forward fold however this is seated. In this pose place a yoga block underneath your knees. This way makes it easier to reach your feet and target a different area in your hamstrings. Alternate between forward folds with and without a yoga block and you’ll see your flexibility improve.

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block by Asivana Yoga used for supported forward fold pascimotanasana

3) Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Pigeon pose is an excellent stretch for the hips, but it can be intense for people with tight hips or limited flexibility. Using a yoga block under the lifted hip can provide support and make the pose more comfortable while still working on flexibility.

4) Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)

This deep lunge can be a powerful stretch for your hip flexors. Use a yoga block under your hands or forearms for support and to find the right depth of the lunge for your body.

Yoga Block Exercises for Strength

Let's talk about strength. Yoga block exercises can assist in developing strength, especially isometric strength, by adding resistance, helping with alignment, and allowing you to safely explore challenging yoga poses with blocks.

1) Fierce Pose aka Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Place a yoga block between your thighs and squeeze it as you sit back into Chair Pose. This not only engages your thighs but also your core and glutes.

2) Crow Pose (Bakasana)

Taking your arm balance to a new height, place two yoga blocks shoulder width apart or where you normally place your hands in your crow pose arm balance. Then use those blocks as an elevation of your yoga mat to come into a crow pose and fly like a yogi!

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block Asivana Yoga Company Crow Pose Bakasana Cork Yoga Block Supported Arm Balance

3) Dangling Pose (Lolasana)

You can use two yoga blocks to elevate your hands, making it easier to lift your feet off the ground. To perform this pose, sit on your heels in hero pose with a yoga block on either side of your hips. Plant your hands on the yoga blocks, cross your ankles, engage your core, and lift your hips off your heels. This goes in stages but ultimately you’ll have your feet lifted off your yoga mat.

4) Scale Pose (Tolasana)

Like Lolasana, you can use two yoga blocks to elevate your hands. Start in a cross-legged position with a yoga block on either side of your hips. Press down into the yoga blocks, engage your core, and lift your entire body off the floor. This may begin with a simple engagement in the core progresses up to holding your whole body above your yoga mat.

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block by Asivana Yoga used for Tolasana supported arm balance

Yoga Block Exercises for Balance

Balance is a crucial component of yoga, as it promotes physical stability and mental focus. If you're looking to improve your balance, yoga blocks can provide some extra support to help you explore balancing yoga poses with blocks safely and confidently. Here are some yoga block exercises aimed at enhancing your balance.

1) Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana C)

A yoga block under your hands can provide support and allow you to focus on the strength and balance in your standing leg. You can either set the yoga block up before coming into warrior 3 or have the yoga block in your hand to extend your reach as you enter warrior 3.

2) Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

A yoga block under your lower hand can provide stability, allowing you to open your chest and hips while balancing on one leg. As with warrior 3, you can have the yoga block in your hand or setup on the mat before coming into half moon pose.

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block Asivana Yoga Company Half Moon Pose on Flux Cork Yoga Mat Hot Yoga

3) Crow Pose (Bakasana)

Same as described in the yoga block exercises for strength section, placing a yoga block under the forehead or to step onto with the feet can give you a better sense of balance in your crow pose.

Yoga Block Exercises for Restorative Yoga

In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, taking time to relax and restore is paramount. And yes, your yoga block can help with that, too! Restorative yoga poses with blocks, in particular, make excellent use of yoga props like yoga bricks to support the body in yoga poses that encourage deep relaxation. Here are a few yoga block exercises for restorative yoga.

1) Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Seated, bring the soles of your feet together, and let your knees fall apart. Place yoga blocks under your knees or thighs for support, allowing your inner thighs to gently stretch and relax. If you’re extra flexy here you can place a yoga block between your feet.

2) Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

In this restorative pose, lie on your back, bring the soles of your feet together, and let your knees fall apart. Same as in your seated bound angle pose, place yoga blocks under your knees or thighs for support, allowing your inner thighs to gently stretch and relax.

3) Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Place a yoga block under your sacrum (the bony part just above your tailbone) in bridge pose. This provides support, allowing your body to relax and release tension in the hips and lower back. You can keep your knees bent with feet on your mat or extend the legs straight.

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block by Asivana Yoga used for supported Bridge Pose

4) Supported Legs-up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

You can use a wall or simply from your supported bridge pose extend your legs towards the sky with a yoga block under your hips. Legs up the wall with a yoga block is a restful inversion that can help relieve tired legs and feet and promote relaxation.

5) Supported Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Even in Savasana, a yoga block can be useful. Place a yoga block under your knees to alleviate tension in the lower back, allowing for a more comfortable and restful relaxation.

Choosing the Right Yoga Block for Your Yoga Practice

Materials of Yoga Blocks for Exercise

So what are the best yoga block materials for yoga block exercises? The most common materials you'll find are eva foam, cork, and wood. Each has its own set of benefits, so your choice will depend on your personal preferences and the nature of your practice.

EVA Foam Yoga Blocks

EVA foam is lightweight, soft, and often the most affordable. They're excellent for restorative practices, as they provide gentle support. However, they may not be as durable or as stable as other types. EVA foam is also a non-sustainable nor eco-friendly polymer material that releases formamide into the air around it.

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block by Asivana Yoga foam yoga blocks

Cork Yoga Blocks

Cork yoga blocks are firm with very little give, which can be beneficial for balance and strength exercises. Cork is a prime example of a sustainable and eco-friendly material. Cork is naturally anti-microbial and hypoallergenic meaning your cork yoga blocks are helping you fight bacteria instead of being a host of bacteria. Cork yoga blocks are fairly heavy so be careful not to drop one on your foot.

I believe that cork yoga blocks are the best material for yoga blocks all around which is why I created the EcoBlock cork yoga block. If you’re interested in using a cork yoga block, I would love to share my favorite yoga block with you!

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block by Asivana Yoga yoga blocks how to use for exercise Yoga Block Stack

Wood Yoga Blocks

Wood yoga blocks are the heaviest, most firm, and most durable. They offer excellent stability but may not be as comfortable for restorative poses or for use on sensitive areas like the neck or spine. Wood yoga blocks are best used for bringing the floor closer to your hand or foot. Holding one brings the risk of dropping and injuring yourself! However, wood yoga blocks can last a lifetime and look extremely beautiful.

Dimensions of Yoga Blocks for Exercise

Yoga blocks are essential tools for enhancing your practice, providing the support needed to maintain alignment and reach deeper into your poses. They come in various sizes to cater to individual needs and yoga styles.

Standard Size (4"x6"x9")

This size yoga block is the most commonly used and works well for most practitioners. At 4” x 6” x 9” it's a versatile option, offering a balance of comfort, stability, and height. The various yoga block dimensions offer a variety of options to get the perfect fit for each of your yoga poses with blocks.

Narrow Size (3"x6"x9")

You’d be surprised, or maybe not surprised, at the difference one inch makes. Narrow yoga blocks at 3” x 6” x 9” are slightly thinner, making them easier to grip, particularly for those with smaller hands. They're also a bit lighter than the standard yoga blocks but offer slightly less stability.

Extra-Large Size (4"x6"x12")

These yoga blocks are rare but could be ideal for taller practitioners or those needing extra lift in certain yoga poses with blocks. Generally at 4” x 6” x 12” or more, they provide the most support but can be more challenging to grip and handle due to their larger size.

Specialized Yoga Blocks

There are custom sized and shaped yoga blocks that might have an arch or hollow section. These specialized yoga blocks have a limited purpose such as the wedge which is a long thin ‘yoga block’ that goes from a higher section to a lower section to help with pressing fingers into your yoga mat instead of your wrists.

Yoga blocks how to use EcoBlock Cork Yoga Block Asivana Yoga Company Gate Pose Using EcoBlock on Flux Cork Yoga Mat

Unleashing Your Inner Hero with Yoga Blocks

There you have it, the myriad ways yoga blocks exercises can transform your practice, from building strength and flexibility to improving balance and promoting relaxation. Yoga blocks are truly versatile props that can support yoga practitioners of all levels.

Once again if you’re interested in supporting me and getting something for yourself for use with your yoga poses with blocks then I would love for you to check out the EcoBlock cork yoga block which I created for my own yoga practice.

Blessings,

Jack

About the Author Jack Utermoehl Founder and Owner of Asivana Yoga Company

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