Perhaps you’re starting a new class at a yoga studio for the first time and are reviewing what you need to bring for class. As you move down the list, you see the basics: a yoga mat, water, and a towel. However, once you continue lower onto the list, you see “brick” or “block.”
What are they? Do you need them? Are they the same thing? Yoga bricks and blocks are a helping hand in the world of yoga, allowing you to deepen or simplify certain poses, but you don’t necessarily need them. They’re not quite the same thing, but we’re here to explain, so continue reading to learn more!
What Is A Yoga Brick?
A yoga brick is a small, rectangular prop often used in yoga. It’s shaped like a brick, hence the name. Yoga bricks are very similar to yoga blocks but tend to be thicker than the blocks. Like yoga blocks, yoga bricks can be made from various materials, including:
- Foam (usually firm, high-density foam)
When Do You Use A Yoga Brick?
Yoga bricks are an excellent way to shorten movements to accommodate limited flexibility. For example, consider the triangle or extended side-angle pose. If you’re not particularly flexible, these poses can be tricky, especially when you’re first starting.
Since it’s best to take it slow and avoid forcing your body into movements it’s not ready for; a brick comes in handy here. Simply place the block on top of the floor where your hand would go to shorten the movement and save your stiff muscles from a painful stretch. Then, position yourself in the pose with your hand on the block instead of the floor.
Once you’re ready, you can eventually reach down and touch the floor (if you’d like), but the brick is a great way to begin building your flexibility.
Or, let’s consider the Navasana (boat pose) or forearm plank positions. In these poses, you can use the brick to challenge yourself and strengthen your muscles that are otherwise on somewhat of a break in these poses.
You could place the brick between your knees or just above your knees, holding it in place using your adductor muscles (inner thigh). This targets your inner thighs, as you probably guessed. The adductor muscle group can be tricky to target, so this is a great way to incorporate a bit of a challenge.
What Is A Yoga Block?
A yoga block is usually the flatter of the two, generally used for support while sitting. Some folks use the terms interchangeably, but the yoga block is actually the narrower of the two. Some manufacturers mark thicker yoga props as blocks, but by these standards, they’re technically bricks.
Like yoga bricks, they can be made of varying materials, including cork, hardwoods, bamboo, and high-density foam.
When Do You Use A Yoga Block?
As mentioned, yoga blocks are often used for added support while sitting. For example, consider the Sukhasana or any other pose requiring crossed legs. These poses can be complicated, especially for folks with tight hip flexors. You can place a block underneath your seat to relieve some of the stress placed on the hips.
The added elevation relieves pressure on your hips, allowing them to relax and maintain a comfortable position for longer. On top of that, the lumbar spine is lengthened, making it a more comfortable position altogether.
On the other hand, consider poses like Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold) or Upavistha Konasana (seated wide-legged forward fold). These poses can be tricky for folks with tight hamstrings, hips, or lower back. You might not be able to fold much, barely bending toward your legs.
This is totally normal – it’ll take time to build flexibility, but many people struggle with this same thing. So, place a block underneath your seat to help your body slowly work into new flexibility. The added elevation can help prevent straining your muscles, helping you relax deeper into the pose. The more you relax, the deeper you can move into the moves.
Your muscles will begin to relax and lengthen, allowing you to reach further into the folded pose. Eventually, you may feel comfortable enough to remove the block and complete the pose seated on the floor. However, don’t push yourself to do so when your body isn’t ready, as this can lead to unnecessary injury.
What’s The Difference?
Blocks and bricks are remarkably similar, so the confusion between the two is understandable. Generally, the main difference between bricks and blocks is the dimensions of the prop. The blocks are thinner and have a bigger surface area, whereas the bricks are chunkier and tend to be denser.
Each has different purposes, although you could use them interchangeably. However, in moves where you need to hold onto the block or brick, you may have a tougher time doing so with thicker bricks, especially if you have small hands.
Many yoga practitioners have a brick and a block in their bag, but you don’t technically need to have both. You might find it easier to have both, but you could probably make it work with one or the other.
Do I Need A Yoga Brick?
Yoga bricks aren’t essential for practicing yoga. While they can make certain moves simpler (or more challenging), they’re not critical for practicing yoga. For example, a brick could help you reach the floor easier by “raising” the floor. Let’s say you’re new to yoga and your hamstrings are a bit tight.
Due to the lack of flexibility in your hamstrings, you can’t quite reach the floor with good form. So, this is where a brick comes in. Simply place the brick underneath where your hands will go, then use it as your “floor.”
What Do I Need For Yoga?
Yoga is an excellent way to challenge your body in various ways. You can challenge your strength, endurance, and flexibility in one flow. While this is great, there’s an added bonus: you don’t need much equipment.
Really, you could do yoga without any equipment at all, but this could make it tricky to balance. Carpeted floors and a soft towel will do in a pinch, though, so you technically don’t need any special equipment. However, if you enjoy practicing yoga regularly, you might want to consider investing in a yoga mat.
For most folks, a yoga mat is all they need to start out. Once you’re more familiar with yoga, you might decide to incorporate a block or a brick to help you advance in your practice. That said, you can get by with just a mat.
What Kind Of Yoga Brick or Block Should I Get?
Yoga bricks and blocks come in a few different materials, including cork, bamboo, foam, and hardwood. Generally, it’s best to buy a softer brick/block if you’re using it for restorative yoga or plan to sit on it during yoga.
The harder materials aren’t as forgiving as foam or cork in these poses, so they might not be your best bet. Most beginners stick with foam or cork when they start, as these materials are easier to work with.
If you prefer to stick with all-natural materials, the harder options are your best bet. Bamboo and hardwoods can become slippery if you sweat quite a bit, so working with them can be tricky.
If you’re starting, we recommend trying a foam or cork block/brick to begin with. Foam is great for restorative yoga, while cork is ideal for scenarios where you need a bit of added stability and firmness. Hardwoods and bamboo blocks/bricks are typically used by more experienced yogis, although you can certainly try them if you feel they may be the better fit.
Foam usually doesn’t last as long as the other materials, as it’s softer and easier to break down. Cork lasts a bit longer with its composition, while hardwood and bamboo last the longest.
You can find bricks and blocks in a few sizes, usually of varying thicknesses. Choose the option that best fits your needs (type of yoga practice, size of your hands, etc.).