Do You Have A Yoga Block?
Yoga blocks were invented out of necessity, the necessity to hold the body up in physically compromising positions called asanas (yoga poses). The yoga block is used to prop the body up, to support, contain, fill in the gaps and to elevate the body, as needed, in different asanas or yogic scenarios.
The words “yoga block” can also support the idea that the natural benefits of yoga can be blocked. Some people block the idea of ever allowing their body to relax and let go, those people may have the condition known as yoga block. Fortunately the condition of yoga block can be easily remedied by practicing mindful breathing.
A yoga block in the traditional sense is used to aid the body to unwind and discover new space for joints to move in. A yoga block in the psychological sense is a state of mind that insists that things are best the way they are, the mind says: “further exploration will just lead to more places I’ve never been (and don’t want to go to) and I’m fine just where I am”. A physical yoga block can help support our body while a mental yoga block can keep us too fixed in our way of perceiving our thoughts. Mindful breathing can facilitate a shift of awareness, both physically and mentally, from a fixed place to an open place with limitless potential.
Psychological yoga blocks are like self imposed road blocks that keep us from moving outside of our comfort zone. The only way to unblock is to be open to the unknown. Fear arises when the future seems too unpredictable and because at those times the mind always makes up the worst case scenario. Letting go of preconceived ideas does not need to be an all or nothing proposition. We can keep our opinions, likes and dislikes and still be open to change. Letting go does not have to feel like letting go of control. We all need to have some measure of control in our lives but when that control becomes a fixed idea that will not adapt to change it forms a block, we get stuck. The breath is the tool that unblocks the mind. The in breath brings in fresh energy from the outside and the out breath takes away old ways of thinking that no longer serve our being.
To remove our road blocks and yoga blocks takes just a little time to watch our own mind, to see how it works. Prop yourself up on a comfortable chair and close your eyes. Notice the elusively obvious fact that thoughts are only in your head. Step out of the block by seeing outside of your own mind. When you look from the inside out, into the world outside your head, chances are that things will seem spacious and quiet because most of the tight space and noise is located inside our own head.
Mindfulness can be used to sense the way that the physical world can support our body like a yoga block. While standing feel the support of the ground by relaxing the feet and allowing the goundedness to come up to the hips and the relaxed spine. While sitting feel how the sitting bones support your head and relaxed shoulders. Connecting a relaxed body to the physical world turns everything into a beneficial yoga block.
Yoga begins in our mind, stretching our fixed ideas and allowing inspiration to enter. Mental yoga blocks come up all the time because they are trying to support our thoughts but sometimes they get us stuck. To keep the mind full of inspiration and in a state of relative calm the breath is always our best ally. When we sense a mental yoga block mindful breathing creats a shift. In a sticky moment put all the awareness on sensing the breath, the in breath elevates, inspires and fills the body with energy, the out breath clears away everything we don’t need, liberating us from staying stuck in our head.