Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Yoga Block as an Off-Ice Training Tool

I've been working on a new yoga DVD Hip Helpers by Jill Miller for about 2 weeks.  So far I'm just getting past the first section because my hips need a lot of work (arthritis) but I like it. She does a bit of work with yoga blocks, and I've started using mine for some off-ice work.

I've found that a yoga block is actually a useful tool for improving balance and strength if you're (like myself) older *cough* 'mature', and don't have much ice time available.
Yoga block
I've got a foam block and a cork one. I use them differently.

Let's say I'm working on my mohawks.  I lay the cork block wide side down, step on it with one foot, and then I do what I'll call the 'mohawk approach'. That is, I keep the 'skating foot' on the block, tuck the free foot, stroke, bring the free foot forward to the middle of  the skating foot as in a mohawk. I don't switch feet, this is just my 'approach' to the turn.

While standing on the block I focus on balancing on the correct edge and holding that edge, on the right spot of where the blade ought to be, and holding the correct arm and body position. I've found that the couple of inches of elevation really, really amplifies every bobble of every error.

After a few days of experience with the cork block, I switched to the foam block. The foam block is just a bit squishy. If I'm careless and let my weight get too far back, the block squishes down, reminding me to keep my weight more to the center of my foot.

Once I mastered that, I moved up just a little bit and started doing my mohawk approaches on a balance disc which is much, much, much harder. I originally started on the balance disc, but it was frustrating. Working my way up by stepping through the cork and foam blocks, allowed me to build my balance and strength without having to worry as much as if I'd started on a balance disc.

I feel it helped me get comfortable with all the tiny skills necessary to get my free foot to the center of the skating foot and work on my mohawks proactively off-ice.

And it was cheap, just using some handy things I had around the house.

1 comment:

  1. I go to a weekly yoga class and am familiar with the foam blocks. I had not thought of using one as an off-ice training aid. Good idea! Haven't seen the cork blocks. Our place just has the foam ones. Might prove useful as an off-ice training aid for working on the balance required for the entry part of single foot spins as well.