Yoga Blocks were invented in the 1970s by Yoga Guru BKS Lyengar and were initially fashioned from wood. However, now come in a range of sizes, materials, and colors depending on your preference.
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Yoga Blocks are versatile and medium-sized aiding devices that will enhance or assist your yoga practice. They are useful and ideal for both beginners and experienced Yogis.
For Beginners, it helps and supports you in getting into specific Asana safely, in the perfect alignment, and stabilizing to hold the poses a little longer. Yoga Blocks also assist in modifying poses if you haven’t got a vast range of motion yet.
For the experienced Yogi, they assist in extending stretches or perfecting alignment. They are also used to challenge the more experienced Yogi to try the more daunting poses, giving the confidence to step outside your comfort zone.
The blocks are used for modified Yoga poses to assist with injuries or prevent injuries to the vulnerable that may want to strengthen or protect certain parts of the body.
Regardless of your experience of Yoga and reason for practicing, Yoga Blocks are a great tool to assist in a safe and confident Journey on the Mat.
But where do you buy them?
Which will suit you?
What are the differences, and how are they important to you?
It can be overwhelming if you are new to Yoga, so let’s have a look and see what this all means.
YOGA BLOCK SIZES
The ideal size for a Yoga block, according to the inventor BKS Lyerngar is 9″ x 4.5″ x 3″. However, the most popular size you will find available on the market is 4″ x 6″ x 9″. Other variations on size are also available, but these are the two most popular and available sizes.
Choosing a size depends on a few personal factors related to you as an individual.
If you are new to Yoga, your flexibility may mean that you require a little more support and stability in specific asanas. A taller and thicker block may be what you need to allow you to move into and hold the more challenging poses, such as King Dancer Pose ( Nitarajasana ). Using the larger Block to stabilize your lead hand and the ground may help you move deeper into the Asana without losing confidence.
Hand size is also a significant consideration when looking at yoga blocks that will suit you.
If you have small hands, this may mean you need smaller blocks so that you can comfortably hold them without straining your palm or fingers.
Larger hands may mean that you need blocks on the larger side so that your fingers don’t creep over the Block’s edge. It is also fair to assume that you are taller and require a larger block to bridge the gap between your hand and the ground if you have larger hands.
Half-sized or taller blocks may also be useful for confidence in balancing Asana or complicated deepening Asana.
YOGA BLOCK SHAPES
The traditional yoga block is the shape of a rectangular brick. You will also find blocks that have different proportions than the standard 4″ x 6″ x 9″ size as well as other forms.
Some are curved in to support legs for stretching, rounded at the top to support the spine or neck, or egg-shaped blocks will be the most comfortable for reclining poses and keeping your spine safe in back bending asanas.
FOAM YOGA BLOCKS
Foam Yoga blocks are light and can take a great deal of pressure and punishment. The foam range tends to be the most popular form of yoga block due to availability, scope, and price. These tend to be the Block of choice for most yoga studios that supply new students as they are quite resilient and resistant to being damaged or deformed in any way. Foam Yoga blocks can also be purchased at quite a low budget and are available online and most sport and even large convenience chains. These are the easiest to find and most affordable options for most beginners starting in Yoga.
They can take quite a beating and stay true to form for a decent length of time.
Foam blocks can be slippery depending on their surface, so if you are doing a class often that involves a great deal of sweat, or you are prone to this, a different material may be more suited to you.
Most are not porous, so easily cleaned and disinfected. There is also a delightful range of colors, shapes, and sizes to suit most people, the surroundings, and tastes, with personalized logos and names relatively easy to arrange into production.
A downside for the environmentally conscious is that some foam blocks may not be made with the environment in mind and are not eco-friendly. However, some companies produce blocks manufactured from recycled material that includes foam or a mix of foam and rubber recycled. Recycled and made from sustainable recycled sources, these Yoga Blocks are used with a clear conscience. These factories cater to the environmentally conscious and consider the people and support’s impact, rather than exploit the vulnerable communities involved in the manufacturer.
Some can also permeate a robust plastic odor that can be bothersome and offensive to those sensitive to strong smells when new.
CORK YOGA BLOCKS
Suppose you feel foam yoga blocks do not provide you enough grip due to the coating or slip during a sweaty session. Maybe you are looking for a more environmentally or aesthetically pleasing option. In that case, a better choice for you may be cork yoga blocks.
Their price and flexibility fall between the foam and the cork blocks.
The cork yoga blocks’ suppleness is much more forgiving than the foam or wood. Foam blocks also tend to be a bit heavier than their foam cousins but not as bulky as the wooden blocks.
Cork yoga blocks can be purchased in a range of gentle and subtle colors in the market and are beautifully aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Cork yoga blocks have a gorgeous, gentle finish and are eco-friendly. Most are sourced from sustainable sources and are farmed rather than taken from environments that require it to continue.
Their presence in your workout room can make for a naturally gentle and soothing effect.
Cork blocks may require you to be a bit more conscious of use and gentler on the surfaces you place them on. Where foam is incredibly resilient, cork can fray and start to break away if not used gently and with great conscience.
These are rarely usually seen in fitness or yoga studios. Cork can be a little more porous, which may draw sweat in a little to the material. A good thing because it does not tend to get as slippery to grip or lean on as foam or varnished wood. However, this also means that it is harder to clean and disinfect without damaging the cork over time, so it is unlikely to be used in an environment that required multiple users. They can also develop a musty or moldy smell as they absorb sweat and can mold if not carefully stored to dry out.
Cork Yoga Blocks tend to be more eco-friendly and desirable to the environmentally-conscious than their wooden cousins. The environmental impact and sustainability of cork Blocks are dependant on how both the wood and cork are sourced and harvested. If this is a concern for you, look into each company’s practice until you find one that satisfies you.
Cork blocks are softer and tend to weigh less than wood by one or two pounds but are roughly the same as the foam blocks.
Cork blocks are an excellent choice for personal use but not recommended for shared use with strangers as they will require regular cleaning and will not last as long as wood or foam blocks.
WOOD YOGA BLOCKS
Wooden yoga blocks are either loved or not by the user. While they can be eco-friendly if sourced from an environmentally friendly place, they can be difficult or uncomfortable to use in some Asanas.
Wooden Yoga Blocks are often available in Bamboo, Birch, Maple, Pine, Balsa, and Popular. Different woods have different qualities for the users, such as being heavier or lighter as desired. However, generally, wooden blocks are unforgiving and inflexible, weighing between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds each. On a positive note, however, they are incredibly sturdy aid, aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and last a lot longer than foam or cork if cared for appropriately, even for a lifetime.
Wooden Yoga Blocks tend to be at the more expensive end of the scale when purchasing. However, they do far outlast the foam or cork options.
Wooden blocks are rarely recommended to beginners because they become slippery and hard to grip with wet hands. If placed on a concrete or polished surface and not used without a non-slip mat, they can easily slip or glide if the user’s balance is not accurate. Slip-resistant and confidence-boosting aids are best for those just starting.
Wood blocks are also not recommended for use with restorative yoga classes or to rest the weight of your torso. The Block’s edges and shape are stable and can be quite unforgiving on the spine, ribs, or a substantial body part resting on it. Edges are counteracted by placing padding or a soft blanket on top of the blocks; it is not ideal for those already in pain or trying to find peace. Comfort and rest is the key of restorative Yoga and a hard corner poking your kidney is not ideal.
If you intend to use your blocks for chest openers, wooden blocks can be painful if not placed correctly. As an experienced Yogi, this after the experience can be achieved, but it can be uncomfortable as a beginner and has the risk of injury or bruising to vertebrae.
Wood blocks do not stack well due to their polished finish and are prone to slipping or aquaplaning when pressure is put on them. So be wary of this if you decide that wooden are for you.
They are also straightforward to wipe clean, keep clean, and do not absorb any odor or bacteria if finished correctly and if used under experienced instruction, can be used and enjoyed to enhance your poses.
Your choice of yoga block is a personal choice, determined by the type of classes or style of Yoga you practice and your budget and personal preference.