Build your yoga practice with bricks for a firm foundation. Skip the fired clay and look for foam, wood, bamboo, and cork bricks to prop you up for more freedom to pursue glorious form.
About Yoga Bricks
A yoga brick -- or block -- is an essential tool for some styles. Iyengar yoga relies on props to compensate for lack of flexibility. If you can't quite manage to reach the floor in a forward bend, a brick -- flat or on end -- will have you folded in half like a seasoned yogi. If age or injury limit your mobility, you don't have to give up the joys of revolved triangle. Grab a yoga brick and tackle your practice like a pro.
The bricks are made from various materials, such as foam, bamboo, hardwood, or cork.
Check the source before buying to find environmentally-friendly construction. Bamboo and cork are renewable resources.
Foam is really light but durable. A good foam brick is soft but scratch-resistant.
Hardwood is smooth, beautiful, and tough and may be made from reclaimed wood, a happy choice.
Brick Versus Block
Be aware the terms yoga brick and yoga block are used interchangeably. However, some manufacturers distinguish between them by thickness. A brick may be slimmer, about two inches thick, while a block can be three inches thick or more. The difference is more a matter of preference than semantics.
Use a yoga brick to nail poses that are just outside your reach. This works for rehabilitation from injury, stiffness from a sedentary life, weak or stiff muscles in any part of your anatomy, or an age-related loss of stretch due to the forces of gravity. Try these poses with a brick or a stack of bricks as a prop and discover the feeling of excellent form.
Extended triangle pose works your thighs, knees, hips, groins, hamstrings, calves, chest, spine, and shoulders. But if you're not quite bendy enough for your hand to reach the floor while you're lengthening all those tight muscles, grab a brick.
Put it under your lower hand (the one reaching for the floor) for stability.
You can lay the brick flat, prop it on a side, or stand it up on end depending on the length of your reach.
Your arms and legs are fully extended, and your chest is open. On one side, your arm reaches strongly into the air as your torso lengthens all the way down to the grounded leg. As you look up at your hand in mid-air, the security of the brick ensures you won't wobble and can focus on breathing deeply and evenly into the pose.
Hero pose is a great meditation position, and it stretches thighs and shins. For some people, using a brick can help make the pose safer and more comfortable.
Kneel on your mat and sit back on your heels, spine tall and hands in meditation mudra on your thighs. This is a great seat for meditation but not so much if your quads aren't up for the stretch.
Use a brick under your sits bones to tilt your pelvis slightly forward and ease the strain on your back while you take some pressure off your straining quads. This boosts you into a comfortable position for meditation, especially if your knees are resting on a cushy yoga mat.
When you're interested in holding the pose for a short time, just use the brick as a prop for hero pose to help with alignment and avoid straining quadriceps muscles.
Plow pose can place extra strain on your shoulders and neck, as well as challenge tight hamstrings to reach too far. Solve the problem and perfect the pose with props.
Lie on your mat, legs extended and hands under your hips.
Bring your legs up and over your head, lowering them slowly until your toes touch the floor behind you.
A folded blanket placed under your shoulder blades so your head and neck can maintain a gentle slant and avoid compression is a safe modification.
Rest your toes on a yoga brick to ease the hamstring stretch and the tension on your spine to complete the protection. You get the benefit of the pose without waiting for an advanced level of flexibility before attempting it.
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Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
Your hip flexors are stiff from all the sitting you do. Your back is a pretzel, your shoulders are crunched, and your hamstrings are missing-in-action.
Then, increase the stretch with head-to-knee -- one leg bent, one leg extended straight out on the floor, foot flexed, hands reaching to wrap around your flexed instep.
Use a brick for a little more stretch and a good grip. Place the brick vertically against your flexed instep and hold it there with both hands. This seriously unkinks your back and works your hamstrings.
A yoga brick makes a stable "pillow" for a restful session in child's pose.
Get onto hands and knees on your yoga mat, with the brick flat on the mat just under your chest.
Keeping your hands on the mat, sit back on your ankles, extending your arms and lowering your cheek to rest on the brick.
Inhale and exhale slowly several times on each cheek for an even stretch that relaxes your spine. The brick takes some strain off your shoulders and back if placing your forehead or cheek directly on the mat is uncomfortable.
The Supply Side
You can find yoga bricks just about anywhere. Your local bookstore or athletic gear shop may have them on display.
Gaiam sells an inspiring message-printed foam brick -- everyone smiles in the same language -- for about $12. Orders ship free when you buy $75 or more, so find some friends and check out their cork, bamboo, and wood blocks, too.
Modification with a yoga brick improves more than your posture and expands more than your short list of possible poses. Pay attention to how you use the brick and increase mindfulness. Use a brick between your knees in poses like bridge to help engage your thighs. Rest your spread fingers, not your flat palm, on a brick to work the muscles in your hand and arm. Expand your repertory to include poses like butterfly by placing a brick under each knee to ease tight groins and support your form. Yoga bricks are user-friendly building blocks to help you take your yoga practice to the next level.