Yoga is a wonderful practice that is becoming more and more popular among men and women—even more so now with the pandemic and the need to stay active and healthy indoors. But sometimes yoga can be difficult for newcomers, which is why yoga aids like yoga blocks can be beneficial.
Are yoga blocks worth it? Yes, yoga blocks are definitely worth it because they offer benefits, such as stability, comfort, and safety.
While that already sounds great, really understanding how they can be used and how they function is important. It may seem simple since they are just an object without any buttons, but the more you know, the better off you will be.
Why Yoga Blocks Are Used
Yoga blocks are blocks that can be placed in certain positions to provide a number of benefits. You can use them in pairs or just use a single block, depending on your practice needs. They may be used for:
- Muscle activation
The use of blocks during a yoga session can make things easier or harder. Once you start using yoga blocks, they become an easy part of your practice.
How a Yoga Block Promotes Safety
One of the main reasons why yoga blocks are used is because they provide a safe way to practice. Those who aren’t seasoned in a yoga pose can easily become misaligned.
By practicing certain poses in the wrong position, you can develop acute or chronic injuries. Using a yoga block can help correct alignment.
For example, in pigeon’s pose, you may not be able to adequately lower your hips without losing your position. By putting a block under your leg in certain areas, it may relieve forced pain or improper positions.
Yoga Blocks Assist with Balance During Poses
Yoga blocks can make certain poses that require balance much easier.
For instance, those trying to touch the floor with their hands while lifting their back leg might need a block because they can’t reach all the way down or keep their balance.
It doesn’t have to be only about balancing acts either. Yoga blocks can offer stability in a variety of poses. When people try to do poses that may be too advanced for them, they can use bad form, leading to injuries or unwanted wear and tear in the muscles.
Although this is something that a yogi can pick up in group class, someone practicing on their own may not even notice until the damage is already done.
Use a Yoga Block for Joint Comfort
Styrofoam or foam yoga blocks can also provide a lot of support and comfort to the joints. Sometimes a floor is way too hard for wrists to handle all the pressure of body weight in any plank or cobra sort of position.
The foam structure will provide a cushion feel like a yoga mat would to any of the wrists, ankles, or any other body part resting on it.
Some people use a yoga block as a seat by putting it under their tailbones to create good posture and give relief to their back, as many yoga poses at first can be discomforting to the back if you aren’t used to the practice.
Yoga blocks made of bamboo and wood are less for comfort and more for stability, so if you have arthritis or joint pain, it’s better to lean towards the softer blocks.
Increasing Your Flexibility with a Yoga Block
The yoga blocks are not only for beginners but for those who are actually looking to advance their flexibility. Sometimes those who practice yoga may be limited by the ground or how far they can go in flexibility for reach.
For example, if a person can already touch their toes with their legs straight, they can increase their flexibility by putting a block or two underneath their feet and aiming to touch the floor below.
This will add extra inches and make the practice more challenging. Commonly, this can be used to push the splits as well. Some people put a block underneath their heel in the splits position to raise their leg higher and increase the stretch.
Are There Any Downsides to Using Yoga Blocks?
There’s not much to complain about when using yoga blocks, but there are a few things to keep in mind when using them in your practice. There are different shapes and sizes that have different functions. One of the only negative effects is using the blocks improperly.
Using the blocks for advanced practice when you aren’t ready can cause safety issues. For instance, doing inversions with yoga blocks can be too unstable and cause injury.
If a block were to be on its lateral, skinny side and you were using them for softer joint support, it’s possible if you were to come off balance, the block would tip over and cause you to fall and or hurt yourself.
Types of Yoga Blocks vs. Benefits
Yoga blocks come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. Each one has a different idea for function and use, which is essential in understanding your goals. Some blocks may be better to activate muscles or provide support. Comparing and constating some of their functions and prices may help you make a better decision in what works and doesn’t for your practice.
Yoga blocks can come in an array of different sizes. This is because people will have different goals and length needs for both beginner and advanced yoga. Most regular yoga practicers will have a few different sizes because in some poses, they may be very flexible and other poses not flexible at all. So they will have different needs.
The two standard sizes are: 3 x 6 x 9 and 4 x 6 x 9.
- The larger a yoga block is, the easier it will be to reach. So, using larger blocks for your most uncomfortable and difficult poses can be a great place to start with a new pose.
- Smaller sized yoga blocks will make you reach a bit further. You can think of the decreasing size in blocks for reach as new levels of improvement.
This becomes the opposite in using blocks for advancement. The increased height can be a measured improvement when you stand on the block to touch your hands to the floor and increase the flexibility range.
The traditional brick shape or rectangular block is commonly bought as the standard yoga block. However, the shape has evolved for different kinds of poses to assist in doing it the right way and providing support.
- The Egg-Shaped Yoga Block: This can offer tremendous support for the back in normal positions or for those working on their backbends. Users also report this can be easier to hold because of the natural curve of the hands, and it offers an easier grip.
- The Cork Wedge Yoga Block : This is another shape that offers great support and specifically helps with perfecting alignment. Sometimes it’s good to have a few different kinds of blocks again for different purposes.
It’s good to note that these types of blocks may be worth spending a little extra on because they have a specific function like offering back support, and you don’t want a cheap one.
Material and Weight
Different materials have different functions in support and comfort.
Foam vs. Wood When It Comes to Weight
The foam materials are best for support and providing a little more comfort to anyone who suffers from wrist pain. A wood block could be used in a way to add weight if lifted to activate certain muscles or challenge a pose further by adding weight.
Another reason to consider the weight of a yoga block is because of the type of yoga you are engaging in:
- For Isometric holds: A lighter block will be great in a normal yoga class.
- For hot yoga: In this case, the floor and materials can become slippery, and a heavier yoga block is recommended to stay in place.
But keep in mind that a wood block may be heavier but also provide less grip in these situations. It’s a balancing act. And it depends on your experience and comfort.
Some of the other materials are bamboo, which can be an environmentally friendly option for people who want something sustainable and will last for a more durable amount of time than a foam material that may eventually form mildew or mold.
Yoga blocks, without question, are worth the investment. There are many upsides with minimal adverse effects other than just safety and proper usage. They provide stability, support and can add challenge to those who are looking to expand their practice.
As yoga blocks have become more and more popular, the options for sizes, weight, material, and shape offer different functions and challenges, so there are a plethora of ways you can make them work for you!