Cost-effective props, such as blocks, can provide greater accessibility when exploring a wide array of yoga poses. In honor of National Yoga Month, here are four asana variations that pair perfectly with the FitnessMat to offer greater comfort and support in your personal practice.
Extended puppy pose: At the center of mat assume a hands and knees position with wrists below shoulders and knees below the hips. Slowly walk hands forward toward the front edge of the mat, allowing the chest to rest atop block with palms pressing into the floor. Keep hips stacked over knees while actively reaching forward with fingertips. Hold this position, breathing deeply for five complete cycles of breath.
Modified pyramid pose: Begin in a half-kneeling on the mat with right foot forward, placing a block on each side of right foot. With hands atop blocks tuck left toes under and lift left knee off the mat, rising to a supported low lunge position. Inhale to extend both knees, drawing hips up and back while allowing the chest to guide toward right thigh, continuing to keep left heel lifted off the mat. Hold this position, breathing deeply for five complete cycles of breath before switching sides and repeating.
Bound angle variation: Assume a seated position with knees bent and legs pressed together. Allow both knees to open toward opposite sides of the mat, resting knees atop blocks as soles of feet draw together. Keeping heels close to groin place hands on top of feet or ankles, allowing outer edges of feet to remain in contact with the mat. Inhale to lengthen the spine, then exhale to lean torso forward slightly, guiding chest toward heels. Hold this position for 5 complete cycles of breath.
Restorative bridge pose: Lie on back with knees bent and feet flat on mat positioned hip-width distance apart. Draw heels as close to glutes as possible so that fingertips can lightly graze backs of heels with arms extended. With the back of head and shoulders remaining in contact with the mat, inhale to lift glutes off the floor, sliding a block at its lowest setting beneath the sacrum (lowest part of the back). Rest body atop block, allowing arms to remain relaxed at sides with palms facing the ceiling. Hold this position for five complete cycles of breath.
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT 500 is a nationally-recognized wellness expert and professor of yoga studies at MiraCosta College, where she helped design and implement a 500-hour yoga teacher training program recognized by Yoga Alliance. Additionally, she serves as senior advisor for health and fitness education for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and is the lead editor and author of the new ACE Group Fitness Instructor Handbook: The Professionals Guide to Creating Memorable Movement Experiences. Connect with Jessica at www.jessica-matthews.com and on social media at @fitexpertjess.