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Yoga Blocks


Manduka Cork Yoga Blocks

Many yoga students tend to have a love/hate relationship with yoga props. Some may feel that the props show weakness, which of course is silly! In class, yoga props offer tremendous value. Perhaps the most useful prop is the simple and effective yoga block!

Yoga blocks offer plenty of advantages, especially to beginner yoga students. Naturally, yoga newbies need to develop good habits. For example, pose alignment is critical to staying safe and yoga blocks can help new students find the proper alignment for many postures. Blocks can also provide much needed support and are especially useful in restorative style classes when poses need to be held for much longer periods of time. It may sound obvious, but another huge benefit of yoga blocks is their ability to simply raise the floor level when students lack the flexibility to reach it on their own.

If you're considering using blocks in your practice, there are a few things to consider. Things to keep in mind would include making sure you understand the best way to use blocks, learning which yoga poses may benefit from blocks, what are the types of yoga blocks, and how to decide which type of block is best for you.



How Yoga Blocks Can Help

There are basically three primary uses for yoga blocks, although you may discover some new ones! Yoga blocks can help with balance, support, and raising the floor or adding some length for those who may lack flexibility.

Help with balance! There are many yoga postures that require good balance. Many beginners may struggle with their balance as they continue to build strength. Standing poses like Half Moon Pose are notorious for testing balance, and sometimes a strategically placed yoga block can make the pose much easier by allowing the student to find balance without having to reach the mat. There are also a few seated poses that may test balance, these postures can also be easier with the help of a block.

Help with support! Blocks can also provide valuable aid with support on the mat. For example, restorative yoga classes are usually filled with yoga blocks and other yoga props. In restorative classes, poses are held for longer periods of time and blocks can help make the poses much easier to hold by supplying support. It's common for instance to see a block used in a pose like Bridge Pose, a carefully placed block between the lower back and floor can make it much easier to hold your Bridge Pose.

Help with flexibility and alignment! It's no secret that many yoga poses require flexibility. Beginners can use blocks to raise the floor if they lack the needed flexibility to touch the mat on their own. Many times, pose alignment is sacrificed when students try to force themselves to stretch too far, so the blocks can also help keep proper alignment.



Yoga Poses Made Easier

There are many yoga poses that yoga blocks can make easier. These postures can include both beginner poses and advanced poses, so blocks can be beneficial for beginner and advanced yoga students. Generally, blocks supply two primary pose functions, they can provide help with flexibility issues and offer support. Below are some examples of poses that are prime candidates for yoga blocks.


Using Yoga Blocks

Triangle Pose:

Blocks can be used in Triangle or Trikonasana to help with both balance and flexibility. Beginners are likely to have issues with reaching the lower leg or earth, yoga blocks can help raise the earth and prevent straining. Triangle Pose also presents a balance test, a block can help you find stability. It's important to remember not to place the entirety of your weight on the block, use it as an aid but try to use your core for stability.


Standing Forward Fold Pose:

Much like Triangle Pose, blocks can be used with Standing Forward Folds to help raise the floor if the student isn't flexible enough to reach the ground. Tight hamstrings can prevent attaining the full posture in many poses, blocks are a great way to keep proper alignment instead of reaching for the ground if the hamstrings are too tight.


Restorative Poses & Bridge Pose:

Many restorative classes focus on holding poses for much longer periods of time. In these classes, blocks and other props are instrumental in providing support so that the poses can be held longer. In Bridge Pose, sometimes the block can also be placed between the legs allowing the student to squeeze the block between their thighs.

These are just a few examples of ways to use yoga blocks. Many postures can be aided with the use of blocks and other props, especially poses that require flexibility, balance or support for longer posture duration.

Using Yoga Blocks



Types of Yoga Blocks

Like any other yoga product, there are a variety of yoga blocks on the market. As a matter of fact, prices can vary greatly, and it may be confusing to decide which block to purchase. Basically, there are 3 types of blocks including Foam, Cork and Wooden blocks.


Foam Yoga Blocks

Foam:

Foam yoga blocks are by far the most popular type of yoga blocks today. There are many reasons for their popularity. These blocks are the cheapest to purchase, you can find them online at very low prices. Foam blocks are soft and light, the blocks also come in a wide variety of colors. However, foam blocks are not as eco-friendly as cork or wooden blocks. Usually, foam blocks are made from recycled EVA foam.




Cork Yoga Blocks

Cork:

Cork yoga blocks are a nice compromise between foam and wooden blocks. Cork blocks are eco-friendlier than foam blocks and in some cases just as environmental friendly as wooden blocks. Naturally, these blocks are made from cork, cork is a renewable source and comes from the Cork Oak Tree, the bark can be sourced without killing the tree. Cork yoga blocks are still light and durable. These blocks are more expensive than foam blocks but should last longer.




Wood Yoga Blocks

Wooden:

Wooden yoga blocks are the most expensive type of yoga block and the heaviest. However, these blocks are also by far the most sturdy and durable. Wooden blocks are hollow and are typically made from Maple, Pine, Bamboo and Birch. Sometimes these blocks can weigh as much as 2.5 pounds.



Choosing A Yoga Block


Foam Blocks:

These blocks are the cheapest and the lightest, they also come in a wide variety of colors.

Foam blocks are the softest and the most comfortable and are used widely in restorative yoga classes. Foam blocks also the offer the most convenience for the traveling yogi.

These blocks are the softest but don't provide as much stability in many poses.

Foam gets dirty easily and can also loose its shape over time.

Some foam blocks also arrive new with a funky smell.


Cork Blocks:

Cork blocks are very eco-friendly products.

These blocks are still soft but sturdier than foam blocks. Cork is also heavier than foam but not as heavy as wood blocks.

Cork only comes in one color, but it matches everything.

Cork is good for absorbing sweat, but after a while odors can develop. However, like foam blocks, these blocks tend to grip the mat and prevent sliding.

Cork blocks are more expensive than foam blocks.

These blocks stack well if you have several to store.


Wooden Blocks:

These blocks are by far the most expensive and heaviest.

Wood blocks provide little comfort but excel at providing a sturdy surface.

These blocks will last forever and look nice at home.

Wood blocks can get very slippery and slide around on a wooden or carpet floor. These blocks don't stack well for organization or for poses requiring two stacked blocks.

Most yogis find wooden blocks to be uncomfortable if used in restorative postures.

These blocks will also make the most amount of noise as you move them around.



Keep size in mind when choosing your yoga block. Make sure to find a good fit for your hands. The most common size is 4x6x9, but you may discover that you need a slightly smaller or larger block. If buying a foam block, make sure to find one that isn't too soft or giving for your weight. You also may want to purchase two blocks as many poses benefit from the use of two blocks.

Some awesome sites to purchase yoga blocks include Manduka Yoga, Manduka offers many different yoga props and clothing. Hugger Mugger is another great site to find yoga props and they're known for their cork and wooden yoga blocks.