I used to resist my need for blocks in yoga classes. Even though all of my instructors encouraged the use of props, I couldn't help but feel weak compared to those doing Standing Split without a yoga block — or any wobbling. For the record, my instructors also discouraged me from comparing my practice to someone else's, but I still struggled with it — up until recently, anyway.
A few weeks into social distancing, I decided that yoga would serve me well in a few different capacities — the practice would help me stay present, lower my stress levels, and give me an opportunity to gently move my body in exercise. After just one virtual class, I realised that if I wanted to practice poses like Half Moon or Warrior 3 and truly improve my flexibility and balance, I was going to need to listen to my instructors' advice and invest in a set of blocks. So, I added two Gaiam Yoga Blocks to my shopping cart.
Whether I was taking a beginner flow or an intermediate Power Yoga, I grabbed my blocks to assist a stretch I couldn't quite reach, or to give me stability while I attempted to balance on one foot. Only two weeks into incorporating yoga blocks to my daily fitness routine, my flexibility has noticeably improved. Because I'm able to anchor my hands into the blocks, I can lift my leg higher into the air during Half Moon. Touching the floor in poses like Forward Fold even feels easier.
After chatting with Tess Koenig, a yoga instructor based in New York City, I learned that my former feelings regarding yoga blocks are actually quite common. "Yoga blocks are often seen as a source of weakness, when in reality these props are absolutely there to help you into all types and levels of postures, whether you're a beginner or an advanced yogi," she told me. "Blocks serve many uses in our yoga practice, but the most common benefits I see are allowing students to execute the fullest expression of a pose and making full extension of the leg possible."
One day, I hope to master a prop-less Standing Split — and I know that regular practice with my new yoga blocks will help me get there.