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Yoga Blocks: Cork Vs. Foam

by
author image Sava Tang Alcantara
Sava Tang Alcantara has been a writer and editor since 1988, working as a writer and editor for health publications such as "Let's Live Magazine" and "Whole Life Times." Alcantara specializes in health and fitness and is a certified yoga teacher and personal trainer. She does volunteer work regularly and has taught free public yoga classes in Santa Monica, Calif. since 2002.
Yoga Blocks: Cork Vs. Foam
Yoga blocks are useful props to provide stability and balance in many postures. Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

Yoga blocks are used as props to help you balance in a challenging pose or for other asanas, or postures, where they become small stools. Rectangular blocks were the norm for many years, but there are other shapes available. Yoga blocks can be made from wood, cork or a lightweight plastic foam. Each has advantages.

Foam Blocks

Foam blocks are lightweight and best when you don't want to use a heavy yoga block. For example, your yoga teacher might ask you to do postural work by placing a lightweight foam block on top of your head. By extending through the crown of the head, a foam yoga block gives your skull a manageable weight to work against. This gives you feedback, so you are able to feel the action of that movement. Take the block away and it is more difficult to feel yourself do the same movement.

Foam Block in Bridge Pose

Lightweight foam yoga blocks are especially effective when you use them to teach internal rotation of the thighs in certain yoga poses. For example, in setubhandasana, or bridge pose, you can work internal rotation of the inner thighs by placing a light foam yoga block between the inner thighs. Rather than allow the legs to splay open, creating a less-stable position for the lower back, using the foam yoga block will engage gluteus medius muscles of the side hips. This will keep your sacrum physically stable in the pose, reducing your injury risk.

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Heavy Cork Block in Supported Bridge Pose

Heavier cork yoga blocks are efficient when you need greater heft so your block doesn't slide out from underneath you in other postures. For example, in doing a supported backbend, you could set a heavier cork block under your lower back. Continue to draw the inner thighs downward. In this case, the cork yoga block is a soft surface that will not jam the small sacroiliac joints of the sacrum that protrude, and remain stable enough to not budge.

Cork Blocks for Downward-Facing Dog

Many yoga postures require upper-body strength. For some beginners, this is a challenge. Using heavier cork blocks angled at the baseboard of a wall allows you to move into adho mukha svanasana, or downward-facing dog, with less physical effort. Take each block and tilt it against the wall so it creates a 45-degree angle to the floor. Place your palms flat on each block and step your feet back into the posture. Cork yoga blocks are heavy enough to slide out from under your hands in this and other poses. Experiment carefully with different types of yoga blocks to see which ones are most appropriate for your practice.

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