For roughly the first decade of my yoga practice, my approach to blocks was, “I don’t need no stinkin’ blocks.” I muscled my way through off-balance and out-of-integrity postures, but I’d be damned if I'd use a block. Until I did. Now, if blocks are available, I’m grabbing two; in fact, my dream practice is a block at every corner of my mat. So what changed?
As a newer yogi, I considered blocks some sort of handicap and only to be used if one really needed them - as a last resort. Now I consider blocks my support staff. I feel elevated (literally and figuratively), supported, and grateful for these random blocks of cork...or foam...or wood.
Which leads me to a review of the different kinds of blocks, and the pros and cons of each.
Wooden blocks are sturdy. However, their stability can be compromised on a wooden floor. Wooden blocks are great for balancing postures (half moon) and postures at the wall (triangle). The downfall to wooden blocks is the sharp edge. In my classes, I often start in a supine heart opener with 1-2 blocks behind the thoracic spine and back of the head. Wooden blocks are NOT the most ideal to use in this way.
Cork Blocks are the Goldilocks of blocks - not too hard, not too soft. Cork block are “just right." Cork blocks can be used in a supine heart opener (as mentioned above), have the weight and stability to support you in balancing postures, and the “give” to squeeze in a pose like bridge. One of the pitfalls of cork blocks is how porous they are, thus deeming them challenging to keep clean. Another strike against cork blocks is the weight of them. I will never forget “block day” at Level 1 (a Baron Baptiste one week “boot camp” type training). I brought a cork block and about 10 minutes into our 90+ minute long practice, my block weighed 150 pounds.
Foam blocks are the most universal, and in my opinion the best option if you choose mindfully! Foam blocks are light, durable, and have the right amount of pliability. However, I have used some foam blocks that have no integrity and provide more wobble then they are worth. My go-to block and the one my husband and I use for our small yoga business is the Manduka Recycled Foam Yoga Block. From the product description, “the high density foam offers you additional support so you can expand your limits...curved edges give a comfortable soft grip that is also slip-resistant.” These blocks are comfortable enough for supine heart openers and waterfall AND are sturdy enough to support you in balancing postures without falling over.
If you have a block against blocks, I have three words for you: Drop the BLOCK!
By Liz Skarvelis; All Rights Reserved @2019