What is a Yoga Block?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A yoga block can be a helpful accessory for beginners and long time yoga practitioners. Early blocks according to Iyengar style were often made of things like wood or brick, and implied the simplicity of yoga and its connectedness to natural or at hand elements. It is a little inconvenient to cart around wood blocks or bricks to yoga classes, so now many people prefer lightweight yoga blocks that are constructed of nicely durable foam.

Advanced yoga practitioners will no longer require the aid of a yoga block to perform most poses.
Advanced yoga practitioners will no longer require the aid of a yoga block to perform most poses.

Blocks may not be completely standard in size, but most are rectangular prisms with dimensions of 6 X 9 X 4 inches (15.24 X 22.86 X10.16 cm). Depending on pose and a person’s experience level and flexibility capacity, a yoga block could be used standing up, lying on its side, or placed flat down. The different measurements allow for multiple heights.

A yoga block may help beginning yoga enthusiasts perform poses that require greater flexibility.
A yoga block may help beginning yoga enthusiasts perform poses that require greater flexibility.

In beginning yoga, a yoga block can be important to do some of the poses that require greater flexibility. Things like downward dog can be difficult to perform for those new to yoga practice. People may benefit more from pushing their hands up from a higher block than they would from pushing up from the floor. Many times in early learning, developing correctness in position is harder if flexibility limitations are reached or if remaining in correct position is too painful, and it is better to teach positions with less stretch. Ultimately, regular practice may eliminate the block as greater flexibility is reached.

Yoga gloves may be helpful in preventing falls.
Yoga gloves may be helpful in preventing falls.

There are some advanced positions that specifically rely on yoga blocks. Blocks may be used to push the body completely off the floor in poses like elephant’s trunk. These are usually not poses for beginners and can take much time to master. They also require significant arm strength because the whole body is lifted off the floor by pushing into the blocks.

Performing yoga on a regular basis may help reduce chronic back pain.
Performing yoga on a regular basis may help reduce chronic back pain.

For those dedicated to practice, it’s important to have at least two yoga blocks. Newer students may want to have at least one, but they’re often sold in sets of two. Those who are just trying yoga for the first few times shouldn’t worry about buying a yoga block. Many instructors have extra blocks for students to use. It can be expensive to get a complete set of yoga equipment at first, and unnecessary if an instructor can loan equipment.

Yoga teachers often have equipment to sell, but it’s possible to find yoga blocks in lots of places, including many department stores with sporting goods departments. Shops dedicated to selling yoga supplies may offer the most variety of equipment. Such stores may be found locally and online.

In downward-facing dog, people may benefit from pushing up from a block than they would from pushing up from the floor.
In downward-facing dog, people may benefit from pushing up from a block than they would from pushing up from the floor.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

ElizaBennett

@Kat919 - I had a great prenatal yoga video that I did during my first pregnancy (Shiva Rea, I think it was) that used blocks and straps for modifications during the second and third trimesters. (They had one instructor modelling each stage.)

In my second pregnancy, I went to the gym to work out because, well, toddlers don't sit still while you do your prenatal yoga video! But the modifications I had learned from the video were really helpful in continuing to attend regular classes. I just brought my blocks and my strap with me.

Kat919

In my experience, beginner-level yoga classes are taught with modifications that do not require the use of a block. I've actually only had to use yoga blocks and straps for doing videos!

Blocks and straps are particularly helpful for prenatal yoga. As you get bigger, you just can't do all the moves you used to do. So maybe instead of leaning over and putting your hands on the floor, you put them on your block.

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