A yoga block or brick is one of the most popular yoga props to use in a yoga class. Yoga props were popularized by the late B.K.S. Iyengar as tools to support the body to allow a deeper expression of a yoga pose’s alignment. Yoga blocks are most often used as an extension of one’s hands, but are also used to support the back, head and hips, and to deepen awareness of alignment. A yoga block is most helpful for beginning students and those experiencing injury or other physical limitations, but more advanced practitioners can utilize props to safely learn new challenging poses.
When purchasing a yoga block you will need to consider size, material, cost and number.
B.K.S Iyengar’s stated ideal size for a yoga block is 9 x 4.5 x 3 inches, but you will find blocks that are both larger and smaller than this. Choosing a larger or smaller block will depend on the size of your hands and the level of your flexibility. If you have small hands and are fairly bendy you might want to consider a smaller sized block. Conversely, if you have larger hands and less flexibility think about choosing a larger block.
Originally yoga blocks were made of wood, but now blocks also come in both foam and cork.
Hollow wooden yoga blocks are often made of bamboo, birch, maple, pine, balsa and poplar. Harder woods will be more durable, while softer woods will be lighter. Wooden blocks are comparatively hard and heavy (they usually weigh between 1.5 to 2.5 pounds) but are very sturdy, more aesthetically pleasing and will last forever. The downsides to wooden blocks are that they are expensive, they become slippery with wet hands, can slide around when placed on a hardwood floor and do not always stack very well.
Cork yoga blocks can be more eco-friendly than wooden ones (depending on how the wood and cork is harvested) and cork blocks are softer and weigh less than wood (between one and two pounds). They stack and store well, but unfortunately cork absorbs sweat and odors which may eventually cause them to smell funky and become crumbly or dented as they wear.
Foam yoga blocks are less expensive than cork and wood, are more lightweight (weighing between 3 and 12 ounces) and are very soft. Because of their low cost, durability and ease of cleaning they are the most common blocks found in yoga studios. The downsides to foam blocks are that foam can get dirty and wear easily, and they are not as eco-friendly as wood or cork. At times, they can also feel flimsy or less stable when used for support.
Most of the time you will only need one yoga block, but there is good chance that you’d regret not buying two. There are a few advantages of purchasing two blocks at once. Firstly, you will have a matching set and won’t need to remember the size, brand and color later on. Second, you may often find that having a block in each hand or stacked blocks will offer more support which will lead to a wider range of poses you can attempt during your practice. Even though purchasing two blocks at once will be more expensive if you need a second block later on you will pay more in shipping costs.