What are blocks and blankets used for in yoga?

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Blocks and blankets are used to help people perform poses that they can’t perform properly otherwise due to lack of range of motion and flexibility or because the pose is otherwise uncomfortable without the block or blanket. For example the triangle pose is difficult for some people because they lack the flexibility to put their hand all the way on the ground. A block placed on the ground will allow you to perform the triangle pose properly without causing you to compensate by reaching further than your body will let you.
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Blocks and blankets are called props, and they are used to support your body while practicing yoga asanas (postures) and to help modify certain poses as you learn them. Other props that you may find in a studio are straps and bolsters. If a teacher hands you a prop, this does not mean that you are not a good student. For instance, all levels and age ranges of people use props to:
  • help them safely into or out of a posture
  • protect the body from injury
  • provide support during balance postures
  • create a method for total relaxation
  • improve alignment and create extension in the spine
  • offer assistance while injured
  • keep your body in balance if one side is less flexible than the other
  • release old habits and improve a posture

For example, blocks can be used under the hands in standing poses like triangle pose so that students can place their hand on flat surface if they can’t reach the ground quite yet due to tight hamstrings.
 
Straps for example are often used in shoulder openers to assist students with tight shoulders, but this is certainly not their only use. Students can create a loop around their arms with the strap to allow proper alignment in handstands, too.

Blankets can also be used for many different purposes but are most often used under the shoulders in shoulder-stand to alleviate any potential risks with the neck by providing space for the cervical spine to be in its natural curve and alignment.
 
Don’t be afraid to use props or ask a teacher how to modify a pose using props if something doesn’t feel quite right. When your body is in alignment, you can actually get deeper into your practice and will progress in a healthier and more effective way.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.