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How to Use a Cork Yoga Block to Modify Challenging Posts

5 ways to modify with a cork yoga block

Yoga is for every body. 

But that doesn’t mean that yoga looks the same on every body.

Each individual is built slightly differently, and therefore has their own unique expression of the practice.

Using a yoga block is a great way to make certain poses more accessible and help us reach a greater library of yoga asanas. 

Here are 5 challenging asanas that can be modified using a cork yoga block

#1. Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose)

modified extended side angle with a block

This standing pose is a mainstay of dynamic practices like Ashtanga and Vinyasa Yoga. This pose demands a lot of activation in the quads and flexibility in the front hip flexor, so a block is a great tool for finding your edge in this pose. 

How to Enter the Pose: 

First, find Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2): With a wide-legged stance, point the right toes to the front and the left toes out to a 90º angle. The right heel should line up with the inside arch of the left foot. Then, bend into the right knee until the right knee comes in line with the right ankle. Extend the arms out front and back, and gaze over the right forefinger to find Virabhadrasana II.

Exhale into Utthita Parsvakonasana: With the block at the inside of the right foot, reach the right hand down and securely place it on the block. Lift your hand up towards the sky. Rotate the torso upwards and gaze at the left hand. 

Further Modifications & Variations: 

  • Keep the left hand here, or extend the arm over your head towards the front of the room, further stretching the left side body.
  • To bring the floor closer or further away from you, adjust the height of the block.
  • Eventually, once the hips are open enough, you may be able to remove the block altogether. 

Stay. Breathe. Repeat on the left side.

#2. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

modified triangle pose with a block

Although trikonasana is done with straight legs, there is still a lot of activation happening in the quadriceps to maintain a sense of lifting in this pose. It’s also important to avoid collapsing in the upper body (hello lateral abdominals!), which makes a block a great friend to have.

How to Enter the Pose: 

From Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2): Maintaining alignment of the feet, straighten the right leg.

Exhale into Trikonasana: With the block on the inside of the right foot, then plant the right arm firmly on the block. Extend the left arm high, and gaze up towards the left finger tips. Lengthen the spine parallel to the mat by extending through the crown of the head. 

Further Modifications & Variations: 

  • To bring the floor closer or further away from you, adjust the height of the block.
  • Without compromising the structure of the upper body, reach the left arm around the back to grab the right thigh for a half bind. 

Stay. Breathe. Repeat on the left side.

#3. Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolved High Crescent Lunge)

modified revolved crescent with a block

NOTE: this image shows the pose performed on the LEFT side for better visualization. However, the directions to enter this pose are explained for the RIGHT side.

Twists are challenging poses, with many great benefits for the spine and the lymphatic system. Parivrtta Anjaneyasana is particularly challenging because there is a balancing element introduced, so it’s always best to have a block handy when exploring this pose. 

How to Enter the Pose: 

First, find Anjaneyasana (Crescent Lunge): Find a low lunge with the right foot in front. Rest the left knee onto the mat and lift the torso and arms high.

Exhale into Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (Revolved Crescent Lunge): With the block on the inside of the right foot, place the left hand firmly on top of the block and extend the right hand high overhead. Rotate the chest upwards to gaze up towards the right fingertips. Once you’ve found your balance in the revoked crescent lunge, inhale and straighten the back leg coming into a high lunge position. 

Further Modifications & Variations: 

  • To bring the floor closer or further away from you, adjust the height of the block.
  • Without compromising the structure of the upper body, reach the right arm around the back to grab the left thigh for a half bind. 

Stay. Breathe. Repeat on the left side.

#4. Ardha Chandrasana (Crescent Moon)

modifed half moon with yoga block

Ardha chandrasana requires full body activation, plus a strong drishti (single, unmoving point of focus) to maintain balance. A block can help you navigate the different elements of this pose without compromising on structure.

How to Enter the Pose: 

From Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2): With the block in front and slightly to the right, shift your body weight into the front leg and reach for the block.

Inhale into Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon): With control, lift the back leg off the mat. Bring your left hand to your hip and straighten your bottom leg. Spin the lift toes outwards and rotate the chest towards the left side of your mat. 

Further Modifications & Variations: 

  • To bring the floor closer or further away from you, adjust the height of the block.
  • Extend the left arm high overhead and rotate the left hip open towards the left side of the mat.
  • Bend the back knee, and reach around with the left hand to grab the outside of the left foot. Kick into the palm to open the shoulder and create a gentle arch in the back.  

Stay. Breathe. Repeat on the left side.

#5. Ardha Hanumansana (Half Splits)

modified half splits with block

Ardha hanumanasana (half splits) is a preparatory pose for Hanumanasana (full splits). In this pose, both hips should be square to the front of the mat. Practicing Ardha hanumanasana with two blocks is a great way to train your flexibility and prepare for full splits without compromising on alignment.

How to Enter the Pose: 

First, find Anjaneyasana (Low crescent lunge): Find a low lunge with the right foot in front and the back knee resting on the mat.

Exhale into Ardha Hanumanasana (Half Splits): With a block on each side, plant your hands firmly on the blocks and shift your hips back until the front leg straightens. 

Further Modifications & Variations: 

  • To bring the floor closer or further away from you, adjust the height of the block.
  • Slide the front foot forward to explore the full splits. Only go as far as you can without losing the alignment of the hips to the front of the mat. 

Stay. Breathe. Repeat on the left side.

Why Use a Yoga Block to Modify Your Practice?

It’s important to remember that using a block in your yoga practice does not indicate that your practice is any more or less advanced than someone else's. 

In fact, not reaching or a block because of ego is an even greater limitation for your practice- physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

Ultimately, the benefits of the pose don’t come from jumping into the deepest expression; they come from following the correct physical and energetic alignment, and by using the breath to find your own personal edge in the posture. A block is an amazing tool that can be used by yogis of all experience levels to help us find that juicy spot in each pose where we unlock the greatest benefits. 

 

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