Today's yoga tidbit: have a yoga block party!
This month I have been co-teaching a beginner's yoga series. Every Monday, we gather to meet, converse, and practice yoga. Part of instruction and what makes this workshop-style series a great success is the repetition of meeting with a small group of people to talk about yoga postures, bones, alignment through awareness, and what comes up in a yoga class. One of my most favorite things to do is teach yoga in this way, where the teacher-student relationship is like having one, big, loving dialogue on the practice. One of the best things we work together is understanding the poses in relationship specific to one's body. Offering modifications as the rule, not the exception. It takes seeing, feeling, and understanding what comes up physically and mentally. I've been really focusing on modifying the practice in accordance with a student's body. For example, length of your limbs and what to do when someone has really long legs and shooters arms and vice versa. One simple thing to use: blocks. Prop it up!
This tip is for anyone that has trouble stepping to the top of the mat from downward-facing dog. Use blocks to lift your base to create space.
1. Start with placing two block at the top of your mat, about shoulder-width distance apart.
2. Take your palms down, press down and finger-squeeze your blocks.
3. Walk your heels towards the back of your mat, making the v-shape for downward-dog, melting the chest towards your thighs, drawing your naval in, tailbone high, and long hamstrings. Stay here for a few breaths, taking some wiggles, or bending your knees, and then steady yourself in preparation to the top of your mat.
4. On an inhale, sweep your left leg high, flexing your foot, toes towards your chest.
5. On the exhale, slowly, draw your knee into your chest, rounding your upper back (like cat pose), and step your foot between your palms (blocks).
6. Dial your right heel down at about a 45 degree angle, separating your feet hip-width distance, creating space for your hips in preparation to stand tall at Warrior One.
7. Use your strong center to inhale your upper body to stand and reach your beautiful limbs high to the sky.
I love to use blocks or have them close by as an option for every practice or class I teach. By bringing the earth higher (your base on blocks), you're giving yourself a boosting-lift in order to sweep and hug your leg into your body in order to step forward to the top your mat. It is also great to use blocks to practice jumping to the top of your mat in a vinyasa class.
Sometimes, we need a few extra inches in our practice. Some of the greatest secrets in yoga has little to do with strength and flexibility and so much to do with anatomy (lengthy limbs, torso, etc). Having long limbs, aka genetics, is a bone structure thing! This is why looks are not everything in this practice. It is about understanding your body and feeling yourself in this practice that is truly everything. Give yourself a lift and have a block party!