Whatever level you're at, yoga blocks can be very useful for taking your practice to the next level (no pun intended!).
So here's our ultimate guide to them:
From some of the best yoga block exercises to creating your own DIY blocks at home, this guide will teach you everything you need to know about them!
Let's get going...
1. What Are Yoga Blocks?
Have you ever visited a yoga studio or walked down the workout aisle of a general merchandise store and saw foam, brick-like objects?
Chances are, those were useful devices known as yoga blocks.
These props can help enrich the way you conduct different yoga poses.
They're actually used by both beginner and advanced yogis.
These blocks come in a plethora of sizes, materials, and colors depending on the preferences of the yoga artist.
They were actually invented in the early 1970s.
Originally, these blocks were merely offered in wood:
However, they were heavy, hardy to transport, and prone to forming splinters.
And today, these blocks are often made out of a sturdy yet lightweight foam material, which offers a softer texture and a lighter weight for easier transportation and storage.
2. What Are Yoga Blocks Used For?
As mentioned, they're designed to help a yogi engage in various yoga poses.
Individuals attempting to tackle new poses, those with limited mobility, or even people trying complex yoga poses may especially benefit from a yoga block.
Even for those who are highly experienced in yoga may opt for a yoga block to help them advance their practice.
Although these handy props aren’t required in yoga, many find that they are better able (or even only able) to tackle certain poses with the use of a yoga block or few.
Typically, all individuals engaging in yoga can find a yoga block useful in one way or another as these devices are incredibly versatile.
2.1. What Do Yoga Blocks Do?
Generally, yoga blocks serve as tools that aid the practice of yoga.
They essentially act as a platform for your legs, hands, belly, or other body parts to help you perform specific yoga moves.
Using one of these exercise blocks, you can improve your flexibility and stamina, gain strength, and deepen your poses.
Additionally, you can also benefit from a greater range of motion, have an easier time obtaining the right alignment during a pose, and support weaker muscles, according to the American Council on Exercise.
2.2. Why Do Yoga Blocks Work?
Although simple devices, they remain flat and stable and can accommodate quite a bit of weight without breaking, slipping, or sliding around when in use.
Thanks to their stable nature, these are great and safe pieces of equipment for a yoga workout.
3. How To Use Yoga Blocks?
There are endless ways to use them...
You can use them alongside your usual yoga poses, try them with new poses, or use them in conjunction with yoga moves you’ve come up with on your own.
Here are some yoga poses you can practice with yoga blocks...
3.1. Cow Pose
Place your yoga block horizontally on the ground toward the back of your yoga mat.
You may require two blocks:
The amount of you'll need for this yoga pose will depend on how high you’re able to get your hips up.
You may also want to place a cushion or a folded towel/blanket in front of you in case face-planting occurs will you’re in this position.
Here's how to get started:
- Start by squating on the block.
- Your big toes should be touching, and your knees should keep apart.
- If you’re using two blocks, place one foot on each block.
- Stay in this position for as many breaths as necessary.
- Afterward, place your hands on the floor in front of you, and tuck your knees towards your core.
- Pick up one foot at a time as you lean into your hands.
- Set down your foot flat on the floor before picking up the other foot.
Here's the instructions:
- Begin in a Mountain Pose with your feet out wide.
- Keep your right toes facing forward and your left toes at a 90-degree angle toward the left.
- Place one block right next to your left heel.
- Reach your arms over your head, and grip the block with your left hand as you reach your right arm straight up.
- Refrain from arching your back or hunching over while performing this pose.
- Repeat this pose on the opposite side.
- Continue to repeat as necessary.
3.3. Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog may be considered a resting pose in yoga.
However, for beginners, this pose can be a little tricky when first giving it a go.
Also, the use of a yoga block can certainly make it easier to keep you balanced when in this position.
A yoga block helps with this pose as it keeps your upper body elevated, which can take pressure off your wrists and keep your body balanced.
In turn, this can boost your flexibility and allow you to comfortably delve into this pose with ease.
To engage in this pose:
- Start in a tabletop position, or in other words, on all fours.
- Place one block under each of your hands.
- You can use them on the thin or wide side depending on your preferences.
- Tuck your toes in.
- As you exhale, push your hips up in the air.
- Use your upper body to keep your feet more stable while in this pose.
- As you come to a finish, slowly lower your hips, and return into a tabletop pose before standing back up.
3.4. Standing Forward Fold
If you have difficulty bending down and touching the ground to engage in a Standing Forward Fold, chances are, your back is naturally curved.
With the help from a yoga block, however, this position will be much easier to perform as a block can essentially give you the extra length that you don’t have without ruining your spine alignment.
- Begin in a Mountain Pose.
- Put two blocks in front of your feet.
- With your hands on your hips, maintain a straight, tall back.
- Then fold your hips toward the ground.
- As you begin to feel the stretch, rest both your hands on the yoga blocks.
- You may need to readjust the height and/or distance of your blocks depending on your body type and the kind of stretch you want to receive.
- Keep your blocks close to your feet if you want to engage in a mild stretch.
- For those wanting a deeper stretch for their hips and hamstrings, place the blocks further from your feet.
3.5. Lizard Pose
For many yogis, even those who are advanced, the Lizard Pose tends to burn.
Fortunately, the use of a block can act as an extra support for this complex move.
- Begin by placing your yoga blocks in front of the mat.
- The height of your blocks will depend on the depth you want to receive from this position.
- Nevertheless, make sure that the longer side of your block is parallel to your mat.
- If you plan on using two blocks, place them shoulder-width apart.
- As you ease into the Lizard Pose, bring your foot into a low lunge from the Downdog position toward the front of the mat.
- Your back knee should be on the floor as you do this.
- Straighten out your back as you place your hands towards the inside of your legs.
- Put your forearms on your yoga blocks as you look forward, and lengthen your back at the same time.
- Refrain from looking down during this pose. Remember, this pose should burn a little but not hurt.
- You can keep your arms straight and your back need down if you feel tightness in your hips.
4. What Are Yoga Blocks Made Of?
Today, yoga blocks are made of numerous materials.
However, these days most of them are made from recycled foam or EVA foam.
Not only does foam make yoga blocks easy to lift, move, and transport, but the denseness of this material is sturdy and long-lasting.
In fact, it’s said that recycled foam or EVA foam blocks will last a lifetime, even with frequent use.
While recycled foam or EVA foam yoga blocks tend to be the most popular to date, yoga blocks of other materials also exist on the market such as:
The prices will certainly vary depending on the material of a yoga block.
Likewise, each material offers a different weight, density, stability, and overall feel.
For those wanting an easy to lift and clean yoga block, foam is the way to go.
Although, this material isn’t as stable as other yoga block materials.
As for an eco-friendly and sturdier option than foam, you might consider getting a block made of cork or bamboo.
However, keep in mind that cork tends to crumble with time and absorbs sweat due to its porous texture.
As for wooden or bamboo yoga blocks, these are certainly the most sturdy and long lasting among all yoga block materials.
They are also incredibly easy to wipe clean.
The downsides, however, is that:
- They can get slippery when sweat comes in contact with them
- They’re heavier than other materials
- These blocks can be fairly expensive.
5. DIY Yoga Blocks: How To Create Your Own
Although it’s more convenient to purchase a ready-made yoga block at your local general merchandise store, you can certainly make your own.
This is a great idea especially for those who are in need of a yoga block right away and aren’t within close proximity of a store at the time.
Likewise, one might want to make their own yoga blocks if they want to customize the material, size, shape, color, or other features of their blocks.
The truth is, there are dozens of ways to create your own yoga blocks at home.
However, here are some ways to make your own DIY yoga blocks...
5.1. Cardboard Yoga Block
Duct tape several layers of cardboard cut in the same size.
You can create a rectangle, square, oval, or other shape; just remember to keep the edges of each layer even.
Continue wrapping duct tape around the rest of the blank spaces of your cardboard yoga block.
Feel free to decorate your new block with decorative duct tape of your choice.
5.2. Wooden Yoga Block
Pick up an eight-foot 4 x 6 piece of wood, preferably redwood, from your local lumberyard.
Ask if they can mill the piece of wood into multiple nine-inch sections.
Otherwise, this is something you may have to do at home.
Once you have your nine-inch blocks, sand them, wipe them down, and then finish them off with a stain and varnish.
5.3. Glammed Up Block
Chances are, there will be many yoga block colors and designs to pick from when shopping in store.
However, you might notice that the cuter ones tend to cost more.
If you’re wanting the most attractive yoga block around but not willing to spend significantly more, you can engage in a quick and affordable DIY amping up a store-bought block.
With Mod Podge, you can add fun, printed fabrics or glitter to your yoga block to personalize it the way you want.
Apart from making your own yoga blocks, you can also use substitutes.
You can substitute a yoga block with a book, pillow, towel, blanket, jug of laundry detergent, or soup cans.
6. FAQs About Yoga Blocks
Here's some of the most frequently asked questions about yoga blocks - and how to use them...
6.1. How To Clean Yoga Blocks?
Any piece of workout equipment should be cleaned from time to time as germs, bacteria, and smelly sweat can build up.
Fortunately, cleaning yoga blocks is fairly easy.
To clean foam yoga blocks:
Wash in water with a few drops of dish washing soap.
You may also place foam yoga blocks in the washing machine if there are deeper stains.
Club soda can also do the trick to remove pesky stains if the washing machine doesn’t help. After cleaning, air-dry your foam blocks.
To clean cork yoga blocks:
Simply scrub stains with a wet cloth. If dirt or stains persist, scrub the areas with a gentle, organic cleanser. After you’re done, let air-dry.
To clean wood or bamboo yoga blocks:
Wipe with a damp towel containing soap and water. You may also use cleaning wipes. Let air-dry after cleaning.
6.2. How Many Yoga Blocks Do You Need?
The number of yoga blocks you’ll need will depend primarily on the yoga pose(s) you’ll be performing.
On average, you’ll only need about two blocks.
With the exception of cork blocks, you’ll likely never need to replace them long-term.
You may, however, want more than a couple of yoga blocks if you want to experiment with blocks of different sizes and/or materials.
6.3. Why Use Yoga Blocks?
Although they're optional props, they can certainly boost your performance if used correctly.
If you have trouble bending, keeping stable, balancing, or maintaining certain yoga positions, try adding a block or two.
They can also be useful for preparing your muscles and/or tendons for certain poses.
And you may find yourself advancing in yoga quicker than ever before.