During your yoga practice, using a block or strap can help you more easily access certain poses, such as Triangle Pose, Bridge Pose, seated and standing forward bends -- and poses that open your chest without forcing the pose or using incorrect alignment. Over time, as your flexibility, balance and strength increases, you may find you no longer need props to fully access poses that were once challenging.
Supported Forward Bend
Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip’s width apart.
Place the block about 4 inches in front of your feet on its long or short edge depending on how tight your hips are.
Bend forward at the hips, reaching for the block with both hands. Your hands should rest comfortably on the block. If you can’t touch the block with your hands, clench them into fists and try to touch the block with your fists.
Supported Triangle Pose
Stand facing the side of the room with your legs spread wide. The range of motion in your hip flexors will determine how wide you can safely spread your legs.
Position your right foot so that it is pointing toward the front of the room. Place the block on its long or short edge about 2 inches in front of the toes of your right foot. Extend your arms on either side of your body so that they are parallel to the ground.
Anchor your left foot to the ground, tilt your torso to the right so that it is above your right leg, and bend at the hip while reaching your right hand toward the block until you touch it. Over time, you may be able to reach the ground or touch your ankle without using the block.
Return to your starting position and repeat on the other side of your body.
Supported Bridge Pose
Lie on your mat with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Extend your arms along either side of your body so that your fingertips can just touch the back of your heels.
Lift your lower back up off the mat and place a block beneath your lower back. The block should be flat and not on either of its edges. Lower your back until it rests on the block.
Tilt your head, angling your chin toward your chest. The block eliminates the need for you to lift your lower back off the mat without doing away with the gentle backbend inherent in this pose.
Seated Forward Bend
Sit on your mat and extend your legs straight in front of you. Hold one end of the strap in one hand and the other end of the strap in your other hand. If you don’t have a strap, you can use a towel, folding it longwise and holding either end of the towel in your hands.
Place the center of the strap around your feet. You should still be holding either end of the strap in your hands. The strap should be taut enough so that no part of it touches the ground.
Bend forward at the hips, moving your hands down the strap toward your feet. The strap can help you deepen the stretch, and bend your chest more closely toward your thighs and knees.
Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
Hold the strap behind your back so that you’re holding each end in your hands. The strap should not be taut at this point in the pose.
Bend backward and bring your hands toward each other along the strap. The closer your hands get to each other, the more your chest opens in this chest-opening pose. Over time, you may be able to clasp your hands behind your back without using a strap.
- Hydrate before, during and after your practice to keep from becoming dehydrated.
- You can access Child’s Pose at any point during your practice when you need to reset your intentions and rest.
- If something begins to hurt during your yoga practice, come out of the pose. Pushing your body beyond its ability can lead to injury.
William Henderson has been writing for newspapers, magazines and journals for more than 15 years. He served as editor of the "New England Blade" and is a former contributor to "The Advocate." His work has also appeared on The Good Men Project, Life By Me and The Huffington Post.