Many yoga practitioners, both beginners and experts, are missing out on the benefits that yoga blocks offer. Made of dense foam, they’re super easy to use and nice for sensitive joints. If you don’t have them in your home or at the studio where you take your classes, you are definitely missing out on some super comfortable support.
Why do you need a yoga block, you ask, and where do you buy one? You need a yoga block to help support your body for many poses, and you can buy them at almost any sporting goods stores that sell mats, superstores, and even from online retailers. Whether you think you need one or not, they’re extremely useful to have around in case you end up needing one.
Yoga blocks can be the foundation of poses that leave you needing more or less of a stretch. They can be used not only for cushioning the blow on your joints, but also for enabling you to get even further into your favorite poses. One could even call them the perfect yoga accessory!
The Essence of Yoga Blocks
Yoga blocks, unlike their stereotypes, are not simply for those who need some help getting to the more difficult poses. Instead, they can be used for a variety of purposes in yoga. Need a bolster? Use a yoga block. Need to stretch your spine more in scorpion pose? Yoga block. Need to balance your hands on something solid? Yoga block.
From giving you a better stretch in your poses to creating stability when you need it most, yoga blocks are there for you. Some people even use them to create a cushion between their joints and the hard floor instead of grinding them to death trying to stay upright. Cats and cows become your favorite warmup, and pigeon pose is no longer a threat.
Different Types of Yoga Blocks
Along with their many uses, yoga blocks also offer various different materials for you to choose from. The material you choose makes a huge impact on the way you’ll use them. Softer yoga blocks are great for gentle support, while wooden ones will support your body weight for extended amounts of time.
Foam Yoga Blocks
The most popular and common type of yoga blocks are foam. Soft, comfortable and extremely lightweight, foam blocks are there for you when you need to ease up on the pressure you put on your joints for those restorative poses, we all love so much.
They’re also super easy to carry around, and lend a bright, happy note to your yoga classes, as they come in a huge variety of colors. These are the best blocks to bring with you not only to the studio, but also to the park, poolside, rooftop garden, or gym. Simply toss them in the car or your yoga bag for convenience.
Wooden Yoga Blocks
While wooden yoga blocks can be a bit tougher to pack around because of their weight (based on the density of the wood), they are available in many different kinds of wood and finish. The most popular wooden yoga blocks are bamboo, because of their eco-friendly origins and because bamboo is a softer, lighter-weight wood. They were also the first blocks to be used.
Wooden blocks are quite a bit pricier than foam and cork blocks, however, so they should be purchased only after adequate research is done. Make sure you identify the best wood for you, as well as brands that align with your needs. Because of their nature, wooden yoga blocks should be seen as an investment, because they don’t easily break down or wear out.
Wooden yoga blocks should not be used for the same applications that foam blocks are used for. Instead of using them in restorative poses, these blocks are more for strength poses and poses that require great weight and balance in trickier poses. Because of their finish, wooden blocks are less likely to slip unless wet.
Cork Yoga Blocks
Cork, obtained from a tree whose wood is naturally soft and pliable, makes for great yoga block material. For those with a passion for the environment, cork yoga blocks are sustainably sourced and easily recyclable. Not only are these yoga props made from a stable natural resource, but they also offer you stability in your practice.
Best known for their friction tolerance, cork yoga blocks offer incredible support for poses that require your hands and wrists to support you. If you’re attempting a downward dog with foam blocks, but your blocks keep slipping away, it may be time to invest in some super-reliable cork blocks to keep you where you need to be in your poses.
Do Yoga Blocks Come in Different Sizes?
Absolutely. Most yoga blocks come simply in small and large sizes, but many companies are now offering sizes beyond black and white. They can now be purchased in sizes as small as three inches, all the way up to five inches. Each size serves its own unique purpose and provides a different kind of support.
Three-inch yoga blocks are best for those who have a smaller frame. Because of the nature of some poses, they’ll likely need to be customized to accommodate a shorter leg or arm span. Yoga blocks that are smaller cater to this need as well, making your practice more comfortable and less like an all-out case of over-stretching.
Four-inch blocks are the happy medium and universally accepted size in almost every yoga studio. This size caters to most yoga practitioners and offers the most support and comfort for every yoga. Four inches is also the easiest block to find, since blocks of other sizes are often considered “custom” or “specialty”.
Finally, the oversized yoga block: the fiver-incher. Yogis with enhanced flexibility, taller frames, and even with compromised posture generally tend to use them most. It’s easy to see how five-inch blocks would be far more stable than smaller ones, but usually they’re best saved until you are confident in your posture and flexibility.
How Many Yoga Blocks Do I Need?
As humans, we tend to purchase things in pairs: pairs of shoes, pairs of pants, pairs of earrings, pairs of cute, fluffy socks. This is because we have two of every appendage, naturally. Most people assume that in order to use yoga blocks “the right way”, you need two; one for the left side, one for the right. Many even have one for each limb for comfort.
However, you really don’t need to purchase two if you don’t want to; there are many benefits to using even just one yoga block. It can serve as a bolster, a support for certain poses placed under your back, and a measuring tool between your hands or feet.
If you’re interested in using yoga blocks in a way that you’ll need one under each hand or foot, then you may want to go ahead and purchase a set. Try to avoid using a pair from separate companies or compositions, as they can be slightly different sizes. This is an issue if you need to be balanced or stable in your poses.
If all you need is some extra support, but you don’t want to go the bolster route, consider buying just one block of either four-inch or five-inch size. Blocks intended to be used for support alone should be foam or cork, as they lend that gentle comfort to your joints and spine.
The Unending Possibilities
When it comes to yoga blocks, the possibilities are endless. The best part is that they aren’t limited to just yoga. You can use them for stretching and bodyweight workouts as well. Here are just a few ways you can use yoga blocks in your other routines:
- Use for push-ups under your hands or to support your knees
- Under your head for a deep neck stretch
- Directly under your hips for a supported bridge
- Elevated plank
- Elevated side plank
And many more! You might find that once you begin incorporating yoga blocks into some of your other workouts, you’ll find other ways to make them work into your routine! They can also be used to support you when you need some cushion between you and the floor, no matter what exercises you do, so long as you use safe practice.
Where to Get Yoga Blocks
Everyone who practices yoga loves to shop for their yoga supplies (whether they admit it or not)! As a rule of thumb, almost anywhere that sells yoga mats and bags will sell yoga blocks as well. They’re so easy to get your hands on (pun intended) that it’s nearly impossible to have to search for more than a few minutes.
Yoga supplies are becoming increasingly easier to find as the mindfulness trend broadens to reach those who need it most. That includes yoga blocks. An online search will turn up tons of stores stocked up on every type of yoga block you need.
Here are some of the most popular online stores to shop from:
You can also search for stores that sell yoga blocks using your preferred search engine and turn up thousands of other results. Many of these online stores offer the different sizes and materials listed earlier at an affordable price and with free shipping that won’t break the bank.
Poses with Blocks
If you’re an expert yogi, you might not need the support of yoga blocks for some of the beginner poses. However, if you’re new to yoga and need some help feeling comfortable with the poses, yoga blocks are a great way to ease into a pose that you might otherwise have doubts about. There are many instances in which yoga blocks can help.
Let’s talk about some poses that might feel natural to a seasoned yogi, but a bit more of a challenge for beginners where yoga blocks can definitely help.
This pose is one that finds its way into every yoga session and class. Essential for transitions, the forward fold is a pose that demands a deep stretch all around, especially from your legs and hips. To use yoga blocks in order to make this transition easier, simply place them on the ground in front of you where you intend to hang your hands; one for each hand.
Then, ease into your forward fold, resting your hands on the yoga blocks for support. If you need a lot of help, place them on their ends, to make them tallest. If you start to feel more comfortable with this, you can lay them on their sides. Once you’ve gotten comfortable with how this stretch feels, you can lay them flat, then slowly ween them away.
Downward Facing Dog
Here’s another pose that’s included in pretty much every practice. There are a number of poses that stem off of downward facing dog, so this one is pretty important to nail. You can use the blocks in a similar way to how you would use them for a forward fold; simply place them under your hands, although they may be most stable when lain completely flat.
Since this pose has a tendency to make blocks slip, you’ll want either foam or cork blocks to prevent any slippery accidents. You’ll be placing a great deal of your weight on them. Make sure that you’re practicing on a mat or other surface that has a high friction resistance, which makes using blocks a lot easier altogether.
Using blocks for downward facing dog is a huge relief for beginners, so feel free to use them in the same manner for all the associated poses that would normally stem from this pose.
Triangle pose can be hairy even for the intermediate classes. Getting your hand to reach the floor can be a huge struggle, and oftentimes leads to an unhealthy leaning on the knee or ankle habit. Instead of holding yourself up with a death grip on your shin, try using a yoga block for support and stability.
Place the yoga block just to the outside of your foot where your hand should normally go (in a perfect yoga world). You can try the method of slowly weening away from the block once you’re feeling optimistic about your pose, but don’t rush it. If you need to, you can stand it up on end to give you some more room to get adjusted.
The light at the end of the tunnel in practically every yoga class ever, child’s pose gives us a chance to rest and refocus on our breath. If you feel like getting all the way down to the mat with your head is a little bit much, you can always substitute the floor for a yoga block!
To do this, all you need to do is position a yoga block in front of you, right where you anticipate your forehead landing. You’ll want to ensure that the block is soft enough for this pose; after all, this will be where you rest your forehead. Do not allow the block to reach down the bridge of your nose, because pressure here can cause some nasal discomfort.
Runners pose: the silent hamstring killer. This pose asks a lot of your thighs, especially with your hands on the mat. Beginners will almost always have trouble with this pose simply due to its nature, but don’t fret, because yoga blocks can really help you ease into this one!
Instead of trying to place your hands on the mat when you don’t feel ready or trying to use a death grip on your ankle to keep yourself from pulling a muscle, try using yoga blocks underneath your hands. You can keep the same method of using the tallest length first, then the side, and then eventually laying them flat. You can continue to use them in this way.
Runners pose is especially brutal, and the lower you stretch, the more strain you put on your thighs. Make sure that you keep the blocks directly outside your foot to maintain the integrity of the pose and be sure to maintain straight wrists.
The bridge pose can be difficult to nail if you’re just new to yoga and keeping your hips up can be a real challenge. While there are several variations to the bridge pose, a supported bridge using a yoga block can be the best way to go until you build up your core!
To execute a supported bridge, transition into the position you’ll be going into the bridge from. Once you’re there, you can lift the hips, set the yoga block directly under you so that it rests right above your tailbone. This support won’t necessarily build up your core as quickly as a standard bridge, but it will help to get you into the pose at your own pace.
Upward Facing Dog
Upward facing dog is pretty much just an inverted downward facing dog pose; that is, instead of extending your hips up and out, you are inverting them to lift your core from the ground at the hips. This pose is a really great way to extend your upper body for a deep stretch. Although it sounds pretty simple, digging your palms into the mat isn’t always so easy on them.
For this pose, you’ll almost certainly want to use soft yoga blocks, such as foam. This will help ease the pressure on the muscles and tendons in your thigh; wooden blocks would likely get painful after a minute or so. Keep a light blanket nearby for some extra cushion if you would like!
Using yoga blocks not only eases the pressure on your hands and wrists, but it also helps you to achieve an even deeper stretch, whether you’ve gotten the original pose down or simply need a little more from this pose. Place the blocks on the mat where they feel comfortably distanced from you. Keep your wrists strong to avoid rolling off the blocks.
Planks are one of the most difficult poses for beginners because it challenges your whole body, but especially your core. The core is the main support; therefore, it can be very tempting to support yourself during this pose. If you’re a beginner, you may consider easing yourself into this pose instead of going for it straight away.
To give yourself some support during your first plank poses, or if you need something a bit gentler, use the side of the block that more closely represents your height at the thigh from the mat. Position one block under each thigh, ensuring that you have a comfortable distance from the blocks to your hands. Reposition them if need be. Plank as usual from here.
Other Useful Yoga Supplies
These online stores aren’t just for purchasing yoga blocks. You might be tempted to throw a ton of stuff into your cart before you check out, but the reality is you probably don’t need it all. There are many yoga supplies that are purely there for you to impulse buy, and then there are those that serve a purpose in the studio.
A few things you should consider include staples that make it easier for you to maintain proper posture and items that provide an all-around better yoga experience. Here are some of the most beneficial items for you to purchase along with your yoga blocks.
These are just fantastic. Whoever invented the yoga wheel was seriously onto something great, because they lend amazing benefits to almost every pose. Whether you need to stretch your back, obtain better balance, or simply want to spice up your yoga routine, this is the way to go.
Yoga wheels can be purchased in many sizes, colors and materials just as their rectangular counterparts can. You’ll want to choose one, once again, that suits you and caters to your needs and experience level. After all, you’ll want to love the object that gives you the relief you’ve been chasing.
Restorative yoga heaven. These pillow-like props are the kings of restorative poses and lend a helping hand to poses you’re not quite comfortable with. Bolsters can be found in nearly every yoga studio out there and are very easy to purchase online or at a sporting goods store.
Given their hefty nature, bolsters are best for home practices (unless you have a yoga studio). They can be difficult to lug around, but you might find yourself using them for more than just yoga once you become comfortable with their kind support.
Of course! If you practice primarily at home and don’t have great access to the internet, DVDs are a great way to get you on the mat and motivated. The beauty of them is that you can take the same class more than once if you like it, and it’s the same every time.
Another reason to have yoga DVDs is if you don’t live near a yoga studio and don’t have access to a yoga instructor. For those who live in rural regions, this a great opportunity to stay on-point and prevent skipping poses you’re not so fond of. They can also help you to nail poses you might be having trouble with- you can’t rewind an actual yoga class, but you can rewind a DVD.
Yoga straps are an all-out universal life saver. Can’t touch your hands behind your back just yet? Having difficulties keeping your legs straight up in the air? Need some extra support? Yoga straps are there for you and literally have your back when you need some assistance.
Since yoga straps are used in plenty of other types of body-weight workouts, they are super easy to find on any of the aforementioned online stores and in a huge number of other stores that sell yoga supplies. If you don’t have one, you’ll want one soon enough!
If you’re onto yoga blocks, chances are you already have a yoga mat. If you’re still using a beginner mat, such as a basic sticky mat, you might be interested in trying a new type of mat. Mats come in a variety of sizes, colors, and materials. The difference in yoga mats is usually clearly identified in product descriptions and reviews on online store websites.
Before you decide on mat based on its looks, make sure you do your research, just as with all yoga supplies. Read reviews by other people who appear to have some experience in yoga. These reviewers will generally have a more elaborate description of a mat, and you should definitely use these to your advantage!
The Great Yoga Block
It’s always fun to pick out new yoga supplies, especially when they come with so much to offer! Yoga blocks are a wonderful way to put a twist on the traditional yoga poses, and they’re an excellent source of actual support for beginners. Easy to use and portable, yoga blocks are a great staple to add to your yoga bag.
If you intend to purchase some yoga blocks, focus on the ones that you feel align with your wishes and feel the most “you”. Choose your favorite color, or a color that coordinates with your mat to provide a pleasant aesthetic. Remember that once you start using yoga blocks, you’ll start to warm up to using them with other poses. They’re a lifesaver!