Thursday, March 4, 2010

Do Yoga Blocks Support Compensations?

I have worked with a number of yoga instructors over the years, and have come to find many of them rely heavily on the use of "yoga blocks". The blocks are made of high density foam and shaped into a rectangular box ranging in 3 and 4 inch thickness. The blocks are used for additional support during transitions and yoga poses.
What many instructors don't realize is these blocks actually support muscular imbalances and advocate compensatory patterns. Basically, if someone participating in yoga poses has tightness in any of the following areas: hamstrings, trunk, calves, upper-back, or shoulders--than a block is used to minimize the distance needed to touch the floor or pull from a extremity. Although this allows one to actively participate in a yoga and be comfortable--it doesn't necessarily help the problem on inflexibility. The optimal range of motion is restricted and the use of the block allows for the discretion to remain--in an activity that is designed to maximize range of motion and flexibility.

For folks trying their hand at yoga, limited flexibility may be a factor in the beginning and the use of the blocks may simply be a introductory requirement. Most restricted range of motion is typically experienced by one or more factors including:

1.) Poor posture
2.) Tight muscles/shortness
3.) Excessive weight gain
4.) Past injury (scar tissue or lack of elasticity)
5.) Weakness

Most females that begin an exercise program will experience inflexibility from factors #1, #3, and  #5. The practice of yoga and other types of modalities will help correct posture (including sitting and lifting correctly, as well as strength-training); weight gain will be reversed with proper eating and exercise consistency; and lastly, weakness will be addressed with a proper exercise program. All in all,  the use of yoga blocks should remain a TEMPORARY band-aid for those experiencing inflexibility and should not be advocated as a long-term tool by yoga instructors.

1 comment:

  1. John,

    Thanks for highlighting the weaknesses for long term using yoga blocks. I will share this key information with my clients.

    I always look forward to reading your blog.

    Rick Kaselj


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