A PSA For the friendly yoga block
"Blocks are for wusses. *I* don't need one. And even if I did, I wouldn't want to admit it. Must not show weakness!"
Ever had these thoughts about the only-trying-to-help yoga block? I know I certinaly have. Today's Yoga 101 is a Public Service Announcement for the friendly multi-functional block! Somehow, someway, a stigma started that if a teacher came around and handed you a block during class, you were weak or doing something wrong. It might even feel embarrasing to be singled out.
Of course, deep down, we know the teacher is only trying to help you find the correct alignment in the pose. It's always better to be aligned and even in the pose than to "go far" just for the sake of matching others in the class.
I often ask the whole class to grab a block so that you already have one handy if/when you need one during class and so you don't feel singled out. When I'm taking my own classes, I always have a block nearby. On some days, i don't use it, but on others I do.
One example for me is the extended side angle pose -- sometimes my hand reaches the floor and I can keep both sides of my waist extended with no problem. But on other days, a block really helps me lift out of the shoulders and extend evenly through both sides. You can even place your elbow on your thigh to come up even higher and find more length in the pose. Remember that extensional energy from back toes to crown! Here are three examples that illustrate what I've described: pose without a block, pose with a block (though I usually put it on the outside), and pose with elbow on thigh.
So the next time you're in class, I *highly* encourage you to try a few poses with and without the block -- see what feels best, and what gives you the most bang for your yoga buck.