How to Choose the Best Yoga Block
You may be forgiven for thinking; do I really need a yoga block? It can seem like an unnecessary extra accessory that ‘real’ yogis don’t need or use. In fact, the opposite is true.
When you really commit to growing a deep yoga practice, you realize that yoga is not about twisting yourself into awkward and uncomfortable positions, in order to say “wow, look what I can do!” On the contrary, true yoga is about exploring your body at your own pace and learning to love yourself. It’s about finding what feels good for you, in your own body.
Let’s face it all our bodies are unique. What works for some, will not be right for others, and we are all at different levels. Using a yoga block to modify certain poses will allow you to progress faster in the long run. Don’t let your ego or concern for how ‘professional’ you look, get in the way of building a deep, lasting and evolving yoga practice.
What Are Yoga Blocks For?
Using a yoga block helps you to maintain certain postures more effectively and will deepen and strengthen your practice. Think of a yoga block like a helping hand, a prop to assist you in finding what works for your body. Even those of us who are hyper-flexible should consider using a block. You might find it easy to reach those tricky positions, but that doesn’t always mean you should test your body that way. Sometimes, less is more, and yoga is certainly not about pushing yourself to difficult or painful limits.
How to Use Yoga Blocks
Yoga blocks can be used in many different ways and as a supplement to various poses. They act as support when the ground seems too far to reach. A block will bring the floor up to you, ensuring you hold a pose with more stability. When you use a yoga block as a solid foundation, you will be surprised how much easier it is to develop and improve your practice over time, particularly if you’re looking to do yoga often.
A good yoga block also aids with finding better alignment in many poses. There are specific poses that will benefit from using a yoga block; positions that perhaps you hadn’t considered could be made easier and more enjoyable.
Balancing positions and poses where you must reach and bend can be easier to hold with a block. In twisting poses such as the half moon or triangle pose, using a block to bring the ground up to meet you, avoids over stretching and helps you to maintain natural length in the spine.
It can be tempting to overextend and try to reach the floor in an attitude of achievement. When you focus like that in yoga, you risk losing your natural alignment, breath and compromise the benefit of the posture. Many of the best yoga books explore this mental discipline in detail and it is important you put your ego to one side in order to further your yoga practice.
In Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), placing a block between your ankles can help you from letting your legs splay out as you rise, which could cause strain in the area below your navel.
If you are not naturally flexible in these positions, over time and with the use of a block, you will be delighted at the improvements you make as it becomes easier to open your body.
Using a yoga block also facilitates positions that involve squatting or sitting. A block will help you find your center of gravity and sit correctly so that your lower back or any other part of your body is not under unnecessary strain.
Blocks are also great supportive tools for the head and neck. This is important to remember so that you do not strain your spine. For many, even the most seemingly simple lying down pose can be uncomfortable because of neck or back strain. Some yogis also love to use a block during meditation to help ground them. Others like to lean forward onto a block in child’s pose, resting the third eye.
There is actually a knock-on positive effect of using a yoga block in your practice. The longer and easier you can hold a posture, the deeper, fuller breaths you take, and the more focused your intention in the present moment. Yoga is so much more than a workout; it is a philosophy that will extend into your everyday life beyond the mat. Think of using a block in yoga as an investment in yourself and your body. The long-term gains from practicing proper alignment will be immeasurable and using a block alongside a non-slip yoga towel can have a number of benefits.
What Kind of Yoga Block Should you be Using?
Finding the best yoga block to suit your individual practice is important, and ultimately that will be up to your own taste and requirements. Yoga blocks typically come in cork, foam and wood or bamboo. They range in size, weight, durability, and stability. When choosing the best yoga block for you, your primary considerations should be whether you prefer a lighter weight or a firm support. You might want to also think about how often you need to travel with it, or if you will be mainly using it for a home practice.
These are the lightest blocks on the market and as such are generally the cheapest, softest and therefore the easiest to travel with. Foam blocks tend to be the most widely used and are probably what you will be more likely to find in a communal yoga studio. They are, however, not always made from the most environmentally friendly materials and although their lightness is a plus point, they might not offer the best stability. A heavier block can be more slip-resistant.
Cork blocks fall somewhere between foam and wood in terms of weight and stability. A little more comfortable than a wood block (for head resting), cork is durable and has good grip. The texture makes them non-slip and nick resistant. Cork blocks are also aesthetically quite attractive and tend to be made from sustainable material, good for the eco-minded yogi. They are, however, a bit heavier than foam blocks, something to bear in mind for travel.
Wooden (or bamboo) Blocks
Obviously, these are the heaviest and most hardy of yoga blocks, they also tend to be the most expensive. Similar to choosing a mattress for a bed, some people prefer a hard surface and others don’t. It comes down to individual comfort. A wooden block will offer you good stability but if you prefer more traction between the floor and your block, a cork or foam option will suit you better. If you tend to sweat a lot during yoga, a wooden block may not be the one for you, as the material will slip more.
Best Yoga Blocks Reviewed
We have selected five of the best yoga blocks to review in order to help you choose what works best for your yoga practice and lifestyle.
REEHUT Yoga Block
This is a high density, foam block 100% non-toxic and eco-friendly. That means no strong chemical smell, which can occasionally be an issue with foam/plastic materials. The blocks are also moisture proof and won’t breed bacteria. When you order this product you actually get two blocks, each size at 9”x6”x4” and you can choose from eight different colors including purple, pink and turquoise. These are a great choice for a beginning yogi, looking for a solid, lightweight foam block option at a good value. These blocks are easy to travel with and soft. They are slip resistant and have rounded edges for good grip.
Fledo Yoga Blocks
A sturdy yoga block, perfect for those preferring something firmer, but at the same time, it’s not too hard. Portable and very lightweight, the Fledo block is made from non-toxic, recycled agricultural polyethylene, so you can feel no guilt towards the environment. It’s a standard sized block weighing 2 pounds and with beveled edges for comfort and a perfect grip. It’s also non-slip, which is good for extra stability and support. This would be a great choice for someone looking for a medium density yoga block that is still lightweight. You also get two in a pack with this product. The color range is pretty, choose from Blue, Sky Blue, Rose Red, Purple, Grey, Lavender, Brown, Turquoise & Black.
Gaiam Yoga Block
Gaiam has developed quite a presence in the yoga world with its products and their yoga block is no exception. This block is lightweight but durable, made from strong, supportive foam. Standard size (9”x6”x4”) and weighing 5.6 ounces, the block comes in an attractive range of colors and even tri-color designs. The Gaiam yoga block is perfect for those wishing to strengthen and deepen their postures, it doesn’t slip and works as a wonderful aid for balancing poses. Its foam density is sturdy, but with just enough give to make it comfortable. You could sit on it without a problem for meditation, and it’s also easily spot cleaned with detergent. You can’t go wrong adding this to your yoga accessory collection.
Peace Yoga Block
For those wondering about the best cork options, Peace Yoga offers fully slip-resistant, high density, attractive cork yoga blocks. Sturdier than a foam block, these also feature rounded edges and corners, which is ideal for easy comfort and grip. They are also heavier than foam blocks, so if you were looking for a firmer block for balancing, this would be a great choice. There are also two sizes available; the standard 9”x6”x4” or 9”x6”x3”. They are eco-friendly and really attractive if you prefer a more natural look that blends with everything. The benefit of cork is definitely the traction between the block and the floor for no slipping. Despite being a little heavier than foam blocks, these are still easily transportable. Just because it’s cork, doesn’t make it boring! You can choose from different designs like a mandala, elephant, sun, shell or tree, for a subtle but stylish look.
Heathyoga Yoga Block
With this product, you receive a two-pack block and yoga strap combination. A smart option if you want a little more bang for your buck. The blocks are made of foam, but it’s eco-friendly recycled high-density EVA foam. It doesn’t absorb sweat and keeps bacteria away. High density and slip-resistant, these blocks are a reliable option for good support and longevity. They are durable, lightweight and firm, with surprising strength under body weight. They weigh 1.5 pounds and are 9”x6”x3”. The design is attractive, with 3 different bi-color combinations to choose from. The bonus strap is a nice little extra and can be used to help stretch out muscles or provide tension in certain poses.