Regardless of whether you are a beginner or you’ve been practicing for many years, a yoga block can help you get the most from your workout.
My earliest introduction to these must-have props was at my very first public class. I think we used one to help with half moon and to be honest, without it, I would have fallen flat on my face.
I remember leaving that day and deciding that if I was going to be practicing at home, I needed to get one asap. From that moment, a yoga block has always been part of my daily asanas.
This post covers everything you need to know about yoga blocks and bricks, why I use them and how to incorporate them into your regular practice.
What is the difference between blocks and bricks?
After thorough research, the terms block and brick appear to be interchangeable. Technically, a yoga brick has similar dimensions to a standard rectangular building brick, whereas a block can come in many shapes and sizes. To avoid confusion in this post, I’ll refer to them all as yoga blocks.
Are yoga blocks just for beginners?
No! The idea that they are only used by beginners who aren’t flexible, is a big myth! Yes, they will help bring the floor up to meet you if you can’t reach your toes in forward fold. But what they can also do is assist with correct posture and alignment, something that even experienced yogis are constantly striving for.
The most popular yoga block shape is a six-sided rectangle. It allows three different height levels to be used depending on how you position the prop. It’s also a stable shape to work with, which is important for beginners especially when being used for balance support.
There are larger, flatter blocks that are good for sitting on and ones with curved edges that better accommodate the shape of a hand. Also available are wedges which are good for wrist support and egg shaped blocks which allow for a gentle rocking movement.
The most common sizes are 4 x 9 x 6 inches and 3 x 9 x 6 inches. If you have petite hands you might find the thinner block easier to grip. For beginners, I suggest starting with the larger width because it has more surface area and is less likely to topple over. When your practice is more established you might add a second size and/or shape to your kit.
Are yoga blocks eco-friendly?
The most common yoga block materials are foam, cork and wood.
EVA foam is the most popular. It’s a dense recycled plastic that is extremely lightweight and hard wearing. Blocks made from this can last a lifetime if looked after although they can mark, dent and soil easily.
Cork blocks are made from a porous material and are a mid-weight prop. They will absorb sweat and odors which makes them less durable than foam. They can also become crumbly around the edges and start shedding after a while.
Wood blocks come in many types with the most common being bamboo. They tend to be heavier and more expensive but less likely to split or break compared to the other types. The smooth surface is easier to clean but can get very slippery when wet.
All 3 materials are recyclable and considered eco-friendly. However, cork and wood blocks that are sourced from sustainable, natural products, as well as being plastic free, are better for the environment.
10 benefits of using a yoga block
- Brings the ground closer
- Adds length to limbs
- Helps with alignment
- Helps release tight hips in seated postures
- Provides an anchor point for balance poses
- Helps to stay in poses for longer
- Assists with deeper stretches
- Provides support for difficult poses
- Can help avoid injury
- Builds confidence
Do I need one, two or more yoga blocks?
One is better than none but if you’re yet to make a purchase I suggest you get two blocks for your home practice. Once you get comfortable with using these props you will be surprised at how often a second one comes in handy, especially when holding stretches. If you’re not sure how to use multiple blocks at once, make sure to watch the video below for some inspiration.
How to use yoga blocks in your home practice
I’ve been using one for many years but even I was surprised at the number of ways this teacher incorporates blocks into her practice. It’s a very quick 3.5 minute video so make sure to watch it all the way through.
What not to do with yoga blocks
Yoga blocks are great for modifying poses and reducing injury risk but there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when using them.
- Props are designed to make poses easier, not effortless, so don’t expect miracles. You should use them to help progress your yoga gradually. As I increase my own flexibility, I like to place the block at a lower height level to deepen the stretch. Eventually I might be able to remove it completely. If not, that’s ok too.
- For balancing poses and inversions, try not to rest all your body weight onto an upright block. I can say from experience that you risk knocking it over and falling. Not fun! Instead, aim to grip lightly with your hand or fingertips and engage core muscles to help keep you steady.
Best yoga block brands
Gaiam, Heathyoga, Manduka, Peace Yoga and Hugger Mugger are all excellent brands for yoga gear. See my post on top bricks and blocks for home yoga for examples.
Blocks will cost between $10 to $20 depending on what material they are made out of. Buying a set of two will be more economical than purchasing one separately so keep this in mind if you’re on a tight budget. Foam types are usually the cheapest option and should last you many years before they need replacing.
It’s easy to forget to clean your props but you definitely should be doing that regularly, The good news is, you probably have everything you need already.
Foam blocks can be cleaned with soapy water and a damp cloth.
Cork and wood blocks, due to their porous properties, should be cleaned with just water, or an organic, natural cleaner. You can make your own by following this easy DIY cleaning spray recipe.
- Bricks and blocks are essentially the same thing
- Useful at all levels of experience
- Loads of benefits
- One block is good, but having two is better
- Cork and wood blocks are the most eco-friendly
- Inexpensive yoga prop
- Easy to clean