Let’s face it! Yoga is hard.
In fact … some people make yoga poses look almost effortless. There is a grace and an ease in their faces and bodies and onlookers decide that maybe they should try this yoga thing out. And so … we grab our mats and join in a class (usually while thinking “this is gonna stretch me out and feel so good”).
The Yoga industry makes a yoga lifestyle look easy and free. As if those people don’t have a care in the world most likely because they can touch their toes. I am here to tell you … don’t believe the hype. Yoga is hard. And what’s even harder is trying to push yourself into a pose and still breathe at the same time.
It can take weeks or months or even years to have the alignment and stability to stay in a pose and look somewhat steady. Throw in the subtle changes in our bodies and emotions every single day and you have a challenging practice of balancing your breath and your muscles.
But what is yoga really?
I think you will get a different answer from every person you ask as it is different for everyone. But one thing we all seem to agree on is that it is a practice to join or “yoke” the body and mind for self realization. There are many “styles” of yoga. To name a few … Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga, Jnana Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga (devotion). The one most of us practice here in the West is Hatha Yoga.
Yoga was first mentioned in a sacred text called the Vedas written in approximately 3000 BCE. It originally was a meditative practice of quieting the mind, focusing the breath, and sensory withdrawal. In the beginning … there were no asanas … yup … none . It was primarily sitting for long periods of time in silence and stillness. In 400 CE, Along came Pantajali and in The Sutras he laid out an eight fold path to reach enlightenment … The third sutra ( after the yamas and niyamas) is the beginnings of the Hatha Yoga we practice today. It really wasn’t until the 20th century that the physical practice started to gain momentum. From my understanding … the poses are really a way to condition the body for long periods of meditation and sitting. Not an easy task if you have tight hips.
So … yes … while the physical aspect of yoga is so incredibly good for you … the essence is to find ease in the body through BREATHING … that has to come first. Because if you’re not breathing … it’s a bit difficult to wrap yourself into a pretzel. And … that is where blocks are your BEST FRIEND!
As a yoga teacher … I see many people (myself included) struggling to reach the floor or find balance in a pose like Standing Half Moon. And the day I decided that blocks were NOT for beginners … but for deepening my practice and actually feeling the ease in a pose … a light bulb went off and I now use them all the time! I use them to get better alignment but I also use them to feel more muscle engagement and space as I move through my practice. I can tell you with certainty … I have learned more from my blocks than I have from some teachers I have had. No disrespect to my amazing teachers … but … words do not teach … only feeling does. So blocks allow you to feel your way through a pose and know what can be adjusted for greater ease.
Here are just some of the reasons to use a block or two in your yoga practice …blocks can:
Bring the floor to you
Deepen the pose
Provide a more accurate feeling of proper spinal and hip alignment
Provide more space in your body
Create more muscle engagement with better alignment
Give you the feeling of length through your spine
Teach you proper pelvic alignment
Blocks aren’t for beginners … they are for those who want to know more!
Wanna know more? Come to this ... and if you can’t … get ready for the guide to help you find the feel good feeling that only Yoga can bring!
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