Pilates Spotlight: Yoga Block

| Fitness

The yoga block is your own personal Pilates assistant for nearly every movement. It helps you get into positions correctly, add relief, adjust alignment, propose a challenge, increase elevation and make your workout better. For Pilates exercises, the block can be part of the movement, making your workout go from basic to blockbuster.

yoga block

1. Spotted Leg Lifts: Lie on your back and place the block under your tailbone. This takes all of the pressure out of your lower back and focuses on the lower abdominals. Keep your hands on the ground, close to your body with palms pressing into the mat. Create a little scoop in the lower belly by pulling the belly button into the spine. Lift and lower the legs together or in an alternating pattern. When you lower the legs, they can hover a few inches off the ground so you don’t end up arching your back just to touch the floor. Here's the modified version.

single-leg-lift

2. Elevated Walking Pushups: Get into a plank position with the block placed between your hands. Walk your hands over to one side to that one hand is on the block and the other is on the floor outside of the mat. Perform one pushup, going as low as you can. Walk the hands to the other side and perform a pushup. Keep your feet together, squeezing through the inner thighs. Be sure to keep the feet in the same place when walking the hands from side to side. This can be done on the knees, too. Here's the block-less version.

traveling push up picture

>> Read more: 15 Pieces of Yoga Equipment and How to Use Them

3. Lying Froggers: Lie on your back and pull your feet in close enough to place the block between the heels. Your knees should bend outward and the feet are flexed. Place your hands at your sides, palms pressing into the floor. Move your legs in and out at your pace. The lower they are, the more difficult it becomes. You should never feel pressure in your lower back. If you do, raise your legs higher. Click here to see the block-less version of froggers.

Frog-Press

4. Tricep dips: Come to a seated position with block about a foot behind you. Place both hands on the block so the fingers point toward your back and wrap around the edge of the block. Lift your hips off the ground and bend the elbows to move your body up and down. To make it more difficult, inch your feet farther away from your hips.

Tricep-dips

>> Double dip: Stair Dips and Floor Dips

5. Passing Crunch: On your back, hold the block in your hands as you stretch them over your head. Your body should be in a completely horizontal position. At the same time, slowly pull your arms and torso up as the legs rise. You want to reach a V-sit before you pass the block to your feet. On the way down, you’ll squeeze the block between your feet, still reaching your arms overhead. Moving the block from hands to feet to hands is one repetition. Give the Pilates Sit Up a try, too!

weighted-pilates-sit-up