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How To Use Yoga Blocks For Flexibility And Strength: 26 Fun Variations Of Classic Yoga Poses

Laura Finch on August 13, 2021
Laura is a yoga teacher who completed 200 hours of training.

Do you have a yoga block or two lying idly in the corner? Well, it's time to blow the dust off your most versatile prop ever and get it back in the game!

The best part? There's no need to invent the wheel here and try some weird fancy-schmancy pose variations that you'll never return to. Instead, we'll explore the six classic yoga poses and how to use yoga blocks to:

  1. modify them for days when you need a breather
  2. go deeper for days when you're in the mood for adventure.

Keep scrolling for the 26 fun ways to use a yoga block to increase flexibility, build strength, and release tension. No matter your level, there will be yoga variations for beginners and pros alike.

When it comes to yoga props, the absolute most important thing is that you're using ones. You can perform the following yoga poses with any kind of blocks you have. I personally prefer cork yoga blocks since they offer more stability, slip resistance, and are pretty comfortable for restorative poses. If you're still choosing yours, check out this huge guide on what to look for in yoga blocks.

The set I'm using is 100% natural and produced by a responsible Spanish yoga company Vida Hindya. The brand promotes plastic-free production and uses only natural and biodegradable materials for its yoga props. Check out my full review of the Vida Hindya yoga mat + get a 10% off code here.

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Child's Pose (Balasana)

Balasana is my hands down favorite yoga pose. Whether you need to take a breather, release worry, prepare for the day ahead or unwind before sleep, this yoga pose is grounding and soothing for the nervous system. Because Child's pose involves both the upper and lower body, it also offers plenty of room for play and experimentation.

Try these four variations of Child's pose with a block to add variety into your practice and make it as comfortable or challenging as you feel today.

Option 1: Block under forehead

Even if you can easily touch the forehead to the ground in Child's pose, you might start feeling discomfort when trying to hold the pose for longer periods. Placing a block or two under the forehead takes some pressure off your back and hips, which means you can stay in the pose longer and focus on the breath and not on the growing aches in your body.

This variation is also great for pregnant or bigger yogis who need extra space for the belly.

Option 2: Block under hips

Try to sit on a block or two to take the pressure off your knees and add support for stiff back and hips. For extra "knee love" place a folded blanket over the block - this will elevate your hips higher and decrease the angle in the knees.

Option 3: Blocks for double support

For an ultimate relaxation combo, place one yoga block under the hips and the other one under your forehead. If you have a firm pillow at hand or a yoga bolster, place it alongside under your torso and belly and you'll likely enjoy Child's pose even if you've always hated it.

Option 4: Blocks under elbows

To go deeper in Child's pose, place your arms on blocks and bend the elbows, bringing your hands in reverse prayer behind your head. This variation increases a stretch in the shoulders and triceps. Try it as a cool-down after an intense upper body workout.

Option 5: Block assisted twist

Looking for a yoga pose to hit all the right spots in as short time as possible? This Child's pose variation with a twist targets hips, back, shoulders, and spine.

From Extended Child's pose, place one hand on top of the block and gently twist toward your elevated hand. The higher the block setting, the deeper the twist.

Trying to choose a yoga block but not sure where to start? Check out this extensive breakdown on how to choose a yoga block and learn about the pros and cons of each material and what features to look out for.

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukah Svanasana)

Downward Facing Dog is one of the staple yoga poses in any practice, be it beginner or advanced. It offers a great overall stretch and a foundation for other yoga poses. At the same time, doing it over and over again might get a bit... well, boring.

Try these four variations of Downward Facing Dog with blocks to ease into the pose, take your flexibility to a new level, and bring a spark of fun to your regular Down Dog.

Option 1: Hands on blocks

Elevating your hands on blocks is an accessible pose variation to try

  1. during morning practices when your body is naturally stiffer after a night of sleep
  2. on tough days when you're taking it easy.

If you're struggling with flowing from Downward Facing Dog to Lunge and can't place your foot all the way to the hand, this little elevation also makes it more attainable.

Option 2: Asymmetrical Downward Dog

When you're ready to challenge your flexibility, try this fun Downward Facing Dog variation with a block under one foot. This simple tweak will increase the stretch in the calf and hamstring of the straight leg as well as your lower back.

I like to practice this asymmetrical Down Dog before attempting a split or after a lower-body workout.

Option 3: Feet on blocks

A regular Downward Facing Dog can be turned into a real flexibility feast if you place blocks under your feet. You will feel a more intense stretch in your legs and back.

For extra challenge and fun, try walking your hands back into Uttanasana or Standing Forward Fold.

Option 4: Block between arms

This variation of Downward Facing Dog with a block can be a tricky one for newbies, but it's a good way to practice your alignment. Hold the block with your arms to activate your shoulders in the pose and prevent the elbows from poking out.

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

The name of the pose Warrior II speaks for itself. It requires strength, endurance, and fierceness. Adding a block into your Warrior II practice will help you build all three.

Option 1: Block in hands

Hold a block between palms for extra shoulder work. But remember, don't just "hang out" there. Instead, make sure to press into the block with your palms.

I suggest you go with a cork or wooden block since the heavier it is, the more results you'll see in the future.

Option 2: Foot on block

For an extra burn in your lower body, try this simple variation of Warrior II with a foot on a block. You will feel your front hamstring and thigh doing double work. Plus, you can get a deeper stretch in the common follow-up pose - Extended Side Angle.

Option 3: Block against the wall

There was no available wall during the photoshoot so let's pretend I'm doing Warrior II above parallel to a wall. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Place a block between your front knee and a wall (any setting of your block will do) and press into the block as your hold the pose. This variation of Warrior II with a block is especially helpful for yoga beginners who are getting to know classic yoga poses and need a little reminder to keep their front thigh active and driving out.

Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

Contrary to its English imagery of a soft comfortable chair, Utkatasana is actually translated as an "awkward pose". And if you've ever aimlessly scrolled through any social media page with yoga memes, you'll find that Chair is also one of the least favorite poses of many.

Chair pose requires strength, flexibility, and a great deal of core stability - all at the same time.

These four Chair pose variations with blocks will help you refine your alignment, challenge your endurance, and make this fierce pose a little less awkward and a bit more pleasant.

Option 1: Block in hands

Just like in Warrior II mentioned above, holding a block between hands in Chair pose helps strengthen shoulders.

This is a tough one for me since, as you can see from my Chair picture, I'm struggling with keeping my arms straight and strong while in the pose even without the block.

Option 2: Block between thighs

This Chair pose variation with a block is a classic. Place a block on its thinnest setting between your thighs and squeeze it as you hold the pose. The block will not only keep your knees aligned but also strengthen your inner thighs and pelvic floor.

Option 3: Double block action

If you have two blocks and want to add a whole new dimension to this strong pose, go ahead and combine two previous variations. Squeeze one block between your palms and another between your thigh and comment below about your time record ๐Ÿ˜‰

Option 4: Block under heels

Traditionally, we balance on our toes in Balance Chair to target the quads. But this option is not accessible to everyone.

If you're pregnant or struggling with balance, try placing a block under your heels for extra support and intense burn in your front thighs.

Cobbler's or Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Butterfly pose is a blessing for hips and a lower back that are tired of constant sitting. But it may as well turn into a curse for those with a tight groin or weak core muscles. Luckily, yoga blocks are here to support you on tough days and help you go further whenever you're up for a challenge.

Next time you're on your yoga mat, try these 5 fun variations of Butterfly pose with a block.

Option 1: Block under hips

Whenever you're struggling to sit straight, be it Easy pose, Butterfly, or Staff, try placing a block on its lowest setting under your buttocks. It takes the pressure off your hip flexors, helping your knees melt down to the ground and your spine stay straight.

Option 2: Block under forehead

I love using blocks for support and added relaxation. This soothing Butterfly variation with forehead resting on blocks is my go-to pose for evening relaxing practices and gentle cool-downs.

Depending on your flexibility today and how deep you can fold forward, you can stack blocks on top of each other (like I do on the photo above) or go with one block only.

Option 3: Blocks under knees

Butterfly pose can cause great discomfort for those with tight hips and groin. If you're struggling with the pose, but are planning a yoga practice with longer holds, try placing blocks under your knees or shins for extra support.

Despite the blocks being there, keep your outer thighs engaged as if you're trying to lower your knees to the ground. As your flexibility increases and your inner groin opens up, try changing the block setting to the lowest one or even attempt doing the pose without any props.

Option 4: Block between feet

To deepen the stretch in your thighs and inner groin, place the block in front of you so you hold it with your feet.

Start with placing the block in the thinner setting. As your body opens up with time, you can work toward placing the block flat on the ground. The further your feet are separated by the block, the deeper the stretch.

Option 5: Feet on block

Once you've mastered the previous variation of Butterfly with a block, try going even deeper by placing your feet on the block and folding forward.

Place the block in front of you with the longest side being parallel to your body. Put your feet on the block as in regular Butterfly. You can gently press your knees down with your elbows to help them open up, turning the soles of your feet outward with your hands. As you gain flexibility and get more comfortable in this variation, place the block on its higher setting to elevate your feet even higher.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge is a truly multifaceted yoga pose. It is a gentle inversion and a backend, making it both energizing for your body and calming for your nervous system. It can also turn into a real burner for your back and lower body.

A yoga block will help you explore the many faces of Bridge, thus bringing it to your comfort level and reaping its multiple benefits.

Option 1: Block under hips

This gentle Bridge pose with a block is great for a relaxing evening practice. It releases the tension from the spine and hip flexors as well as opens the chest.

To do it, place a block under your sacrum (find the setting that works for you), press into your heels and lift your hips.

Option 2: Block under sacrum w/ legs extended

Take your Supported Bridge one step further by extending your legs out in front of you. You will feel a pleasant stretch all over your front body, from the front of your thighs and hip flexors to your belly and chest.

To get deeper into the backbend, simply place the block on the higher setting.

Option 3: Block between thighs

If Supported Bridge is too vanilla for you today, place a block on its thinnest setting between your thighs for extra burn. Pressing into your block will engage your inner thighs, keep your legs parallel and protect your lower back.

Option 4: Foot-on-block bridge lifts

This Bridge pose variation will really fire up your lower body and abs. So if you're in a hurry and need to squeeze a quick workout into your day, these Single-Legged Bridge Lifts definitely should go on your list.

Place one foot on blocks, lift your hips into Bridge and point your opposite leg up toward the sky. Make sure to maintain your hips level and your belly tights. You might need o tuck your tailbone slightly. Now comes the fun part. Lower your hips to the floor without touching it and keeping your leg lifted and press back into Bridge.

The blocks under the standing leg will give you more space for the lifts and will make the pose more challenging.

Option 5: Block under head

This Bridge pose variation with a block is meant to release the back of your neck. To do it, simply place the block at the base of your skull as you lift your hips up into Bridge. As always, the higher the setting, the bigger the stretch.

A friendly reminder: skip the pose if you've ever suffered from a neck injury or experience any painful sensations.

Do you have a favorite way to use yoga blocks? Share it in the comments below!

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