If the room with my yoga gear were on fire and I had enough time to snatch only one yoga prop (except for my fav yoga mat), I wouldn't blink an eye - I would grab a yoga block.
Yoga blocks are the staples of any studio and should become an essential part of your home training too.
Read on to learn:
Table of Contents
Meet YogaKali top pick – eco-friendly cork yoga block that will bring versatility and comfort into the practice of beginners and seasoned yogis alike.
Yoga blocks are probably the most essential yoga props used to facilitate or add challenge to the poses, help with alignment, and release tension. They are made of sturdy material such as foam, cork, wood, or bamboo and are often shaped as rectangular bricks.
That said, yoga blocks nowadays come in all shapes and sizes and can take the form of an egg, cube, or even half-moon.
Yoga blocks became popular after the 1970s when BKS Iyengar (founder of Iyengar yoga style) integrated props such as blocks, straps, blankets into the yoga class. The primary purpose of Iyengar was to make asanas more accessible to students of different ages and to help them perform poses correctly while minimizing injury.
One of the most straightforward functions of the yoga block is to decrease the distance between you and the ground and thus to facilitate and modify yoga poses to match your level of flexibility.
For example, if you can't touch your toes (yet!) in the Forward Fold, placing your hands on the yoga block will ease the strain on your lower back by shifting some of your body weight to your hands.
With a yoga block, you can easily modify a challenging pose to free your body from stress and pain.
Check out the video below to see how to use yoga blocks for hamstring flexibility.
Yoga blocks offer additional support for your tight hips and knees and help prevent injury.
For instance, sitting on the block in the Hero Pose (Virasana) will spare you the unpleasant sensation in your knees while at the same time gently stretching your thighs. By modifying the height of the block, you can slowly work towards the full asana without unnecessary strain and risk of injury.
Check out how to use a yoga block for tight hips and knees below.
If you can't breathe properly in the pose and feel uncomfortable, then it does no good for you. Again, yoga blocks will come to your rescue by helping you with alignment.
Take Side Angle Pose (Parsvakonasana), for example.
It's an excellent full-body exercise that promotes strength, flexibility, balance, and spine lengthening. However, the full pose where one hand's touching the ground and the top arm forms a straight the line from the toes to the fingertips is hardly accessible to the majority of people.
Many of us don't have sufficient flexibility to perform the full expression of the pose, which results in collapsing chest and rounded shoulders.
By placing your bottom hand on the yoga block, you can still enjoy the benefits of the pose while maintaining spinal integrity and an open front body.
Yoga blocks are useful props for improving your balance and building strength for more advanced positions.
Take Crow Pose (Bakasana), for example. This arm balancing pose requires solid upper-body and core strength. But for beginners, it can be intimidating to lift the feet even if they have enough strength.
To build confidence, you can place the block under your feet and keep lifting one foot at the time. You can also always put the block under the forehead for additional support.
With the help of yoga blocks, you can progress at your own pace and advance asanas when you’re ready.
Are you a flexible yogi who's been practicing for years? You can still reap tons of benefits by including yoga blocks into your yoga routine.
Namely, blocks work great for muscle activation and for adding some burn to common yoga poses.
For example, hold a block between your knees to activate inner thighs and prevent your legs from splaying out.
Or you can hold the blocks in your hands during standing asanas such as Warrior II or Warrior III. The heavier the block, the more intense the practice and more added benefits for you.
Blocks are also an excellent aid for deepening your stretch, making it possible for you to advance to the next level faster.
Here’s a useful video (though not yoga-focused) on how to use blocks to build strength.
Yoga blocks may all look the same.
Make no mistake, though. Subtle differences in shape, size, and the material will determine:
Besides, individual characteristics, such as density or design, may determine the primary function of the block. For example, softer blocks are better for stretching and building flexibility. In contrast, firm and sturdy ones are best for practicing inversions and arm-balancing poses.
A traditional yoga block has the form of a rectangular cube or a brick. That said, its original appearance is continually evolving, so don't get surprised coming across a yoga block that's shaped as a half-circle.
Egg-shaped block, for example, is particularly useful for reclining postures and backbends due to the curved design.
Hollow semi-circle blocks are great for arm balancing.
Yoga wedges were created explicitly for the additional support for sore wrists.
Yoga blocks come in different sizes, but the standard and most common yoga block dimensions are 4" x 6" x 9" and 3" x 6" x 9".
Most of the yoga blocks have three different heights. Some new blocks even offer four height settings due to their innovative design. This way, you can easily modify asanas according to your flexibility and enjoy a smooth and seamless practice.
For instance, the tallest setting of 9" works great for standing asanas such as Half-Moon Pose. It's going to take the pressure of the lower back and hamstrings.
The lowest setting is widely used as support for the sit bones in the Hero Pose or the Pigeon Pose.
Wondering what size of a yoga block to choose? Use your flexibility level and hand size as a starting point.
If you're a tall person with limited flexibility and big hands, get a larger-sized block. It will 'raise the floor' higher in standing asanas.
In contrast, if you're a bit more on the flexible side and have smaller hands, get a smaller block. It'll be more comfortable to grip.
Original yoga blocks were made of wood, such as pine, bamboo, or birch. Those yoga blocks most probably still serve some yogi now in 2020, as wooden yoga blocks are the most durable option available on the market. Some manufacturers even provide a lifetime guarantee on their products.
Nowadays, wood yoga blocks are often made from sustainable bamboo, making them the most suitable choice for eco-conscious practitioners.
Yoga blocks made of wood are incredibly sturdy and are great for building strength and balancing exercises. They also offer no-hassle cleaning and have a pleasant natural look.
On the downside, wood yoga blocks are pricey, heavy, and difficult to transport if compared to foam and cork yoga blocks. They're great for home yoga practice but are not very practical to travel with.
On top of that, rectangular wood yoga blocks are generally hard on the spine and not the best option for the restorative yoga and backbends. The smooth surface can get slippery if your hands sweat easily, and because of that, they also don't stack well.
Cork is a natural and eco-friendly material that is less expensive and lighter than wood. Cork yoga blocks are still durable and sturdy, and they won't give when squeezed.
Compared to wooden yoga blocks, cork yoga blocks are not as smooth and may have a somewhat flaky texture. Thanks to that, they are comfortable to grip, non-slip even when wet, and easy to stack on each other.
As a disadvantage, due to its porous surface, cork is harder to clean than foam or wood. It absorbs moisture and sweat, which may compromise the integrity of the block. If you buy low-quality cork yoga blocks, they may start to crumble on the corners.
Cork blocks are still heavy to travel with or even carry them to the yoga studio. They also may feel too firm for some people to lie on.
You're likely to encounter foam yoga blocks in any yoga studio.
They are affordable, extremely lightweight, and great for beginner yogis. Foam blocks tend to be softer and squishier when compared to cork or wood yoga blocks and the most gentle for supporting your spine and pelvis in restorative poses. They are also not slippery, easy to clean and carry around.
One of the biggest disadvantages is that some cheaper foam blocks may be flimsy, can't support your body weight, and may even collapse.
The material is also susceptible to wear and tear, gets scratched or dented easily.
Yoga blocks made of foam are also the least eco-friendly option unless they’re manufactured from recycled materials.
The number of yoga blocks you decide to buy is mostly a matter of personal preference.
Getting two yoga blocks at once will make your practice considerably more versatile. You will be able to do a whole lot more poses while placing your hands on two blocks. If stacked together in a row, blocks, especially softer foam ones, can even substitute a yoga bolster and work great for relaxing and chest-opening poses.
Most yoga blocks now conveniently come in the set of two. Some brands also offer a discount if you get a pair.
If you eventually decide to use only one block, you can always stash the second one for later as a replacement, or keep one yoga block in the yoga studio and another one at home.
You don't have to be a beginner or suffer from an injury to benefit from a yoga block. So if the instructor offers you a yoga block during the session or you see a pair lying around, grab them and use them.
Here are just some examples of when to use a yoga block:
Be careful not to get too attached to your yoga blocks, though. A yoga block will make some postures easier, and it might be tempting to stay in your comfort zone forever.
Instead, listen to your body. Change the height of the block to a lower setting when you get stronger and more supple. Eventually, get rid of the yoga block entirely in some asanas.
Also, avoid dumping too much weight or sinking your hands into the block during balancing postures. Instead, engage muscles in your fingers, hands, and forearms.
Like any other yoga equipment, yoga blocks require proper care and cleaning to extend their life and protect against bacteria growth.
Your yoga block will generally come with the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. So make sure to read them before applying any detergent as it may damage the material.
Wood yoga blocks are the easiest to clean. Simply use a damp cloth soaked in soapy water to clean the surface and set the blocks out to dry.
Cork yoga blocks will generally require more attention as they absorb more moisture and sweat than wood or foam. Wipe the surface with a wet cloth and dry thoroughly. To remove stains, add vinegar, soap or soda to the water to create an organic cleaning solution. Do not use harsh chemicals on the cork material. You can also buy ready-made cleaning sprays to kills bacteria and fight bad odors (like this one).
To clean a foam yoga block, use a solution of water and dishwashing soap. In case the block is very dirty, or stains don’t come out, use club soda or vinegar solution. Some foam blocks are also machine-washable, which takes all the hassle out of the cleaning process.
From regular foam brick-shaped yoga blocks to high-end ergonomic wood props, YogaKali has rounded up the 11 best yoga blocks suitable for practitioners of any level.
Manduka's yoga block is a no-frill yoga prop that works great for beginners or veterans alike. It might not look fancy, but it certainly gets the job done.
Despite being made of foam, the Manduka yoga block is surprisingly sturdy. Reviewers say it doesn't tip and can support the significant weight without compressing, even in standing poses.
At the same time, the Manduka foam block is light (only 0.6 pounds), making it an excellent travel companion.
Manduka's yoga block looks well-made and wears well compared to other foam blocks – one user said they've been using the block for 10 years already, and it still is in great shape.
Keep in mind that this foam yoga block is firm. So if you prefer a more malleable surface, you might find the block too hard to lie on.
The item also features "Practice On" engraving on one of the sides, which adds texture to the surface. If you are searching for a smooth yoga block, check out other suggestions below.
Stretch more efficiently and reach real progress sooner with a Clever Yoga Blocks kit. The set contains two recycled EVA foam blocks and an 8ft D-ring yoga strap that will take your practice (and flexibility) to the next level.
Clever Yoga blocks sport a non-slip surface that won't soak up moisture and smooth texture that's easy to clean. The blocks are dense and provide a comfortable balance between firmness and a hint of softness, which is crucial for restorative poses.
If you like to carry your props to the class, Clever Yoga yoga blocks will be a wise choice. They are super lightweight, with only 0.6 oz weight each. The blocks are also designed in a fun bi-color pattern to make your yoga sessions brighter.
The company has excellent customer service. If you are not happy with the product, they will replace it or give you a full refund, no questions asked.
However, since the yoga blocks are so light, they may feel a bit wobbly and not stable enough. In the long term, they are also not as durable as their wood or cork counterparts.
“Because your body is not square!” – that’s the motto of Three Minute Egg, a company that manufactures oval yoga blocks to fit your body curves.
Made of biodegradable foam, the oval yoga block is an excellent prop for gentle backbends as well as releasing neck and back tension. It conveniently contours your spinal curves for the ultimate comfort – finally, no more pain during your restorative yoga class!
The Tree Minute Egg is also handy for stretching and low-impact yoga and Pilates class.
While the functionality of the egg-shaped prop is probably slightly limited compared to a traditional yoga brick, it’s definitely a worthy purchase along with a set of standard yoga blocks.
View this post on Instagram
We ♥️ this wisdom by 📸 @purnayoga828 "In this turbulent world, backbends help us release fear and grief and cultivate more joy and gratitude. They also help us breathe better, so it’s easier to take those deep breaths that soothe the nervous system and combat anxiety. And the more oxygen we get in the body, the better the brain functions. Supported backbends like this one using the amazing threeminuteegg make backbends more accessible for everyone." -📸 @purnayoga828 📸: pshoots #morebackbends #morejoy #3me
Are you a beginner yogi, just figuring out what works for you? REEHUT offers an unbeatable price for those who don't want to invest much in the yoga equipment yet.
Made of EVA foam, REEHUT blocks are lightweight and easy to tote to the studio or wherever your yoga practice takes you.
Soft suede-like texture and beveled edges ensure the soft grip while the moisture-resistant material wicks away sweat and bacteria.
REEHUT foam yoga blocks are available in two sizes to perfectly match your hand size and ensure comfortable practice.
As a trade-off for portability and affordable price, these foam yoga blocks are the least eco-friendly option in this list. Plus, the durability is questionable. The surface quickly takes on scratch marks and stains.
Malleable foam is great for stretching, restorative poses, and backbends, but undermines the stability in more demanding yoga poses.
REEHUT yoga blocks are advertised as non-slip, but in reality, they don't work well if you sweat during the practice.
Also, if you are sensitive to odors, be aware that REEHUT blocks might give off a chemical smell out of the package.
Carolina Morning Designs are on a mission to elevate your yoga experience as well as yoga gear production standards.
Each item from Carolina Morning Designs is ethically manufactured with sustainably sourced materials and green practices. This yoga block, for example, is made of locally grown organic cotton and sustainably sourced buckwheat hulls – a great eco-conscious and durable alternative to popular foam and cork yoga blocks.
Thanks to its non-traditional materials, the yoga block is truly gentle on the spine and your skin. At the same time, it still retains the firmness to support you in common yoga poses.
Bonus: the buckwheat yoga block by Carolina Morning Designs can easily double as a yoga bolster or even a meditation cushion.
If you're looking for firmness and stability - look no further. This Manduka cork yoga block offers a stable and fully slip-resistant foundation when you need it most. These yoga blocks won't wobble, stack well, and provide excellent support for balance postures.
Plus, eco-conscious yogis can sleep soundly - this Manduka yoga block is made of sustainably sourced cork with no added toxins or chemicals.
Among the disadvantages, weight is a major one. With about 2 pounds in weight, the Manduka brick is not easy to transport and is probably more suitable for the home practice.
Also, be aware that cork doesn't give in during the exercise. You can feel perfectly stable when standing on blocks, but lying on them can be uncomfortable at first.
With their minimalist and stylish look, HemingWeigh cork yoga blocks will become a great addition to your yoga practice as well as your room. They are sturdy and provide firm support no matter what your weight is.
Cork is good at absorbing moisture, so you can rest assured that you will not slip even if your hands or feet get sweaty. Cork blocks also stack well and will provide a stable surface when you use them for balance.
And the best thing?
HemingWeigh offers an unbeatable price for the set of two cork yoga blocks. Moreover, the manufacturer provides a lifetime guarantee. So in case you have any issues with the quality such as crumbling or denting, you can easily replace the item.
Keep in mind that HemingWeigh yoga blocks are much heavier than their foam counterparts. Also, some people may find the blocks too sturdy for the back or head support.
Weary of your ordinary yoga blocks? MULAYO comes to the rescue.
Their set of cork yoga blocks are designed in a unique half-moon shape to bring more play into your yoga routine.
Place the yoga blocks on their flat side, and you’ll get a firm, stable surface to practice traditional yoga poses as well as elevate your backbends.
Flip the blocks, and you’ll get a miniature version of a balance board to experiment, add challenge, and have fun.
Infinity strap is a small family-run business that became widely famous for its buckle-free yoga straps. Their other prop, a yoga block called BRIK, sold out in just two weeks after release thanks to its innovative design.
Contrary to other yoga blocks, BRIK has four different heights for maximum versatility in your practice.
You can use it flat or diagonally, and against the wall, which was not possible with other yoga blocks.
As every cork prop, BRIK yoga blocks are on the heavy side and need some getting used to if you're planning to use them for restorative yoga.
People behind YOGABODY believe that "Practice is Everything." And it couldn't be more accurate.
You see, you may feel jealous looking at all those Insta pictures with yogis performing inverted poses and handstands. But remember that it's highly unlikely that these people were successful from the start. It takes weeks, months, or even years of practice to develop the strength and balance necessary for handstands. And Yogabody blocks were designed precisely to make the time you hone your yoga skills more fun and enjoyable.
YOGABODY blocks are made of smooth-finished bamboo and are incredibly sturdy and durable. A firm surface will help you develop stronger fingers, wrists, and forearms – a prerequisite for better handstands.
Those with sensitive joints will also benefit from the sturdy foundation because it prevents you from dumping weight into your wrists (as it happens with cheap foam blocks) and helps build muscles.
The blocks come in a set of two with the dimensions of 5.12 in / 13 cm (long) x 3.5 in / 8.8 cm (wide) x 8.8 cm (tall). There are 3mm of non-slip rubber on the bottom, so you don't have to worry about sliding whether you practice indoors or outdoors or damaging your yoga mat. As an addition, blocks come with a free pose chart.
YOGABODY blocks are fairly heavy (1.8 lbs per block). But the versatility and quality definitely outmatch this disadvantage.
These blocks are slightly on a pricier side compared to foam or cork yoga blocks but are well worth the investment if your goal in to build grip strength and work towards inversions.
Which type of yoga blocks do you prefer: foam, cork, or wood? Share in the comments!