Yogis have toys.
Did you know that? They are
mostly limited to blocks and straps, but oh, the many kinds of blocks and
straps we can have! Just when I think I
have every style, type of block and strap on the planet, a new one comes out that
I just have to have.
I might be a tad
anal about my blocks. When I buy them
they are color coded by size. Sigh. I know Ė the purple ones on my shelf will
always be 4 inchers. If you come with
your own block and itís green and itís 4 inches, I may just stare at it for a
second registering this. Iím kidding of
course, sort of. Iíve got Ďbig blue
onesí (extra large 5 inchers) and skinny maroons (3 inchers). The point is, I adore and respect my
But I have to
admit, there is a pecking order to my blocks; each one jockeying for the
position of Ďflavor of the momentí.
That big blue block comes in handy when Iím doing handstand push
ups. Or maybe you just need an extra
inch or two slipped under your hip for Krounchasana (Crane Pose)Ė Iíve got a
block for that too.
A soft 5 inch black
one goes under the sacrum in Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose). When I mention to
my students that we are doing this pose there is quite the scramble to get at
those black ones (they are on the top shelf toward the back fyi).
Donít get me started on my love affair with the 4
inch cork blocks. Oh, so stable for hand
balances or under my feet when Iím playing with press-ups. Then there are my wedges. They arenít technically blocks, but they
offer support for my wrists and sometimes tucked under my foot in lunges to give me that extra somethiní
somethiní going toward Mermaid IIÖ Of any block Iíve ever owned, it is my
purple, stable 4 incher that is my go to for all kinds of fun.
Iíve even referred to it as ďmy best friend
the purple blockĒ but then again, take that with a grain of salt. Iím a grown woman here, and I have always
loved blocks. But now, here it is, the
sad thing about these toys. Some people
think you use them only because you need them. You need them because you canít bend over and
touch the floor and so you are relegated to Ďa propí. Or you need to loop a strap around your foot
in a forward fold because you canít reach your toes.
You are somewhat lacking in something and
therefore you need a strap or a block.
And so, these toys get a bad rap.
Students feel Ďless thaní when they grab a block. Not in my world.
Let me explain.
I donít need blocks or straps or any props: I want them.
I donít need them; I love them. I
donít need them, they need me. Okay,
that last one went too far. I just got
carried away, just like I do with my toys.
When I look at a purple block I see potential. I see potential to change up my pose;
potential to bring me to a place I havenít been before, potential to see the
world a little differently. You see, in
my own practice, I really donít need a block or a strap.
My hamstrings, if anything are overly
stretched. Iíve never needed a block
under my hand for Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon). So I place one there to see what
happens. How does it feel to be slightly
elevated up off the ground? How does
this change my stability? How does this
make my pose fun?
Oh, have I mentioned
that I use these toys because they are fun?!
The methodology for Asana Diagnostics has come about
partly because of my love affair of all things Ďprop likeí. I eyeball a bolster while in a backbend and I
think, Ďwhat ifíÖAnd the next thing you know, I have it under my back, where
you think it might be helpful. Except
that it isnít just helpful; itís awesome.
And what if I came into Virasana (Hero Pose) and instead of putting the
bolster behind me (same old, same old) but instead placed it under my knees to
help tip me back intoÖ..Kapotasana?? And
this is my game. ďWhat ifĒ? Toys, toys, toys. How can I offer me and ultimately, you, the
student, the experience of a pose by enhancing it with a prop? How can I make it fun?
After a practice session Iíd be embarrassed to have
you over. Youíd walk into the studio and
youíd see every color block off the shelf, wedges up against the wall, a few chairs strewn about (youíd be amazed at
what I can do with two chairs) and sometime even an exercise ball. Several straps of varying lengths; some with
large loops, some with small, some with two or three loops! Now that Iím thinking about it, maybe I
should invite you in right after a Ďplay sessioní. Youíd look around and say, wow, this looks
So, next time you grab a block off the shelf and
sheepishly bring it to your mat to aid you in your forward fold, have a new
respect. This beautiful block is an
extension of you. Eyeball it and let
your mind expand. See not just the
purple block, but the potential it has to bring you somewhere you havenít
been. Like you, that purple block is
nothing more than pure potential.
Unleash it. Now.
Amber Huttner, E-RYT 500
Good Life Yoga