For many yogis, a yoga block is an irreplaceable prop that promotes success in practice. These rectangles help you reach the floor in a Forward Fold, keep your inner thighs active in Bridge, support your balance in Half Moon and access your abs in Boat.
However, if you've ever entered a studio, or are looking to purchase a block for home practice, you'll see an array of choices for such a simple design. The material, density and size of blocks vary. Which one is best depends on how you plan to use it.
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A standard block measures 4 x 6 x 9 inches, and is the most commonly found one in stores and yoga studios. Blocks half this thickness are available to add just a little bit more distance if you have trouble reaching the floor in Triangle, for example.
The standard size block is usually the one of choice, however, as it offers three different heights. You have short, medium and long ways to place it, giving you lots of options.
Blocks may be crafted of foam, wood, cork or bamboo. Foam blocks are of the lightest weight and cushion your head if it needs to be lifted in Savasana and comfortably supports your buttocks if you want to raise your hips in a seated Forward Fold.
Foam is the most forgiving in terms of density, so it's best for resting your forehead in Child's pose, too. Cork has a little more give than wood or bamboo, but both are a bit tough on sensitive parts.
While foam blocks are light and easy to pack and carry, some people find they don't offer as much stability as blocks made of firmer material, such as wood or cork. If you plan to use your block for more stabilizing tasks — such as bracing your hand in Side Angle, or standing on it as a perch for Crow — you might want to go with heavier-duty materials.
A wood block stays put on a sticky mat, but if it's on a wood, laminate or tile floor, it tends to slide. Wooden blocks also slide when stacked on top of each other. Foam and cork blocks usually stay put regardless of the surface on which they're set and stack together stably.
Foam blocks are usually the least expensive, but can soil easily especially if you choose a light color. Wood and cork blocks come in just shades of beige or brown, so if you like a little color variety, foam is best.
If hot yoga is your thing, know that cork blocks absorb sweat. This will help keep you from slipping on them in class, but over time can make them smell a bit funky. Wood blocks aren't best for heated classes as they do get slippery when you sweat.