Looking to understand how to use yoga bricks? Want information on how to buy the best yoga brick for your practice? In this article, I give you all the essential information you need to know about yoga bricks when you are just starting out.
Yoga brick: what is its function?
Yoga bricks are an essential accessory to your yoga session. They will quickly become your allies in your postures. A yoga brick can have several objectives:
- to support you
- improve your comfort
- serve as a support
- help you reach the ground more easily
Most of the time, you will use a brick because it will allow you to extend your limbs, especially your arms, to get closer to the ground. It will thus help you to practice a difficult posture where you still lack flexibility.
Yoga bricks also allow you to avoid injuring yourself. Without their help, you would have a tendency to over-exert yourself on your back or pull on your muscles. So they provide support and relief when going further in the posture would become too intense for you.
Finally, yoga bricks are particularly useful if you lack flexibility. They can be placed between your legs, under your arms, to support you, to support your body weight or to get stuck under certain parts of your body to gain stability and comfort.
However, it would be a shame to think that yoga bricks are reserved for beginners. This is false, they can be useful to all yogis according to their practices. Many yogis use them to progress.
Yoga bricks, what are they?
The yoga brick is rectangular in shape and generally has a standardized size: 22 cm x 11 cm x 7cm. Its thickness of 6 to 7 cm makes it easy to grasp in one hand. It is often light which also allows you to move it easily from one side to the other of your mat.
A yoga brick is made of cork or EVA foam, and more rarely can be found in bamboo. The most common yoga bricks are usually made of foam. Unfortunately they are not very ecological, they are soft enough and therefore ideal to sit on without pain. This is why they have become, over time, the favorite of yoga practitioners. They are also very light. On the other hand, the cork blocks will be heavier and firmer. They will have the same use as foam yoga blocks but will sometimes be more uncomfortable if you want to rest on them for example, as in Yin Yoga.
Use of yoga blocks
The shape of the yoga bricks is very useful because it can be used in three heights :
- on the slice in length
- on the edge in width
You can also use two bricks at the same time, for example to easily put your elbows in the stretched child's posture with bent elbows or to intensify a stretch. For example, you can put two blocks one on top of the other in the back for the fish posture.
You don't have a yoga brick? To start, some classes will often offer to lend or rent you bricks. At home, you may be able to borrow a large book such as a dictionary that will serve a similar purpose. However, if you practice on a regular basis, a yoga brick is still a useful purchase to think about and requires a small budget. It will allow you to gain comfort in your daily practice.
Some postures to do with a yoga brick:
Some yoga postures are best done with yoga bricks. I have detailed today a few postures that often require the use of a yoga block, and explain why.
The stretched triangle posture - Utthita Trikonasana
This posture is great for stretching the whole side of the body and the hips. However, it can be very intense if you want to put your hand on the floor. Put your hand where? Yes I know... If you are a beginner, it probably seems unthinkable. I've been there too. Besides, even today, this posture with one hand on the ground still seems uncomfortable to me: I prefer to use a yoga block to practice it. So, while taking the posture, place a yoga brick inside your front foot. This will allow you to lean on it once you are in the position. Similarly, in an inverted triangle, do not hesitate to place the brick in the same place and why not across the width, so that it is even closer to your arm.
The side corner posture with a yoga brick - Utthita Parsvakonasana
This yoga posture has several variations. In the first level, when you begin, you can place your bent arm on your knee. However, little by little, you will want to place your hand flat on the floor. So, to practice feeling this stretch without injury, place a yoga brick on the outside of your front foot. You can come and sit on it. However, the goal is not to slump on the brick or to put your full body weight on it. In yoga, even with a support, we try to balance the weight of the body in the posture.
The posture of the half moon - Ardha Chandrasana
The yoga bricks can also be used in the practice of balance. For example, the half moon posture can be difficult to put in place. This yoga position is slightly similar to Warrior III. However, here you work with your hips open (whereas in Warrior III the hips are closed) and with one arm trying to touch the ground while the other is moving up to the sky. But here's the rub... When you bend down to touch the ground with your fingertips, your spine is often not parallel to the ground and the ground can seem very far away. So using a block will help you find a nice alignment in your spine and help you stay in the posture longer.
The posture of the fish - Matsyasana
The fish posture is a heart-opening posture that can be difficult for beginners in yoga. The yoga brick will help you relax your shoulders a little more towards the back and open your rib cage towards the front by rounding your back. To do this, place it between the shoulder blades to allow the neck to fall slightly backwards. Be careful if you have cervical and thyroid problems, ask your doctor's advice before practicing this posture. By practicing this posture from time to time, the yoga brick will allow you to work on your upper body opening. But it can be quite intense at first, so listen to your body.
How are yoga bricks used in class?
As you will see, the yoga brick is widely used in Iyengar Yoga. The reason? It allows you to find a better alignment in the postures, to put less strain on the muscles and thus reduce injuries. Moreover, Iyengar yoga is the style of yoga most recommended by doctors, because by using a lot of supports and materials, it limits to the maximum the bad positions that could be dangerous for the practitioners.
Moreover, yoga bricks are also used in another very different style of yoga: Yin yoga. This is a style of yoga where the postures are held for a minimum of 3 minutes and sometimes 10 minutes. This practice, ideal for flexibility, is nevertheless quite intense. Indeed, it can be complicated to stay still in a position that works the muscles and joints for a long time. So to avoid discomfort or pain, the bricks can help support the weight of the body in certain postures. For example, they can be used to relax the head in the Sphinx or Dragonfly posture for example.
On the other hand, yoga bricks are used in all practices for the moment of meditation. Indeed, one can sometimes stay 10 minutes in yoga meditation. In the same way, during the Pranayama exercises, which are often done in a sitting position. Thus, to help you stay comfortable in your posture, you can place a yoga brick under your buttocks. This will help you to have less back pain as the minutes go by but also to keep your spine straight.
The yoga brick also allows you not to go backwards when sitting, as you sometimes tend to do. Placed under your buttocks, it will help you with the Sitting Pliers posture for example.
Finally, in some postures, you can place yoga bricks under your knees, under your thighs or elsewhere to stabilize yourself. This can help to avoid leaving a leg in a vacuum or to relieve a stretch that is too intense. For example, in the Butterfly posture, if the knees are far from the ground, two bricks can be placed under the thighs to limit the work of gravity which can quickly become painful. In a way, the yoga brick will then serve as a wedge.
Buying a yoga brick : my advices
Looking to buy a yoga brick to help you in your regular practice? Here are a few tips I can give you over the years of practice.
First of all, personally, I prefer EVA foam yoga bricks because I find them lighter and more comfortable. But their soft shape can sometimes put off some practitioners. Men in particular, who generally have more strength, can deform them more easily. However, remember that you are not supposed to put all your weight on the yoga bricks. So, if you choose a good quality one, it can last you for years.
But cork bricks also have advantages. They are very non-slip, easier to clean and retain less perspiration. No doubt that men will find them more suitable for their practice. If you don't do Yin Yoga, but think you need them to get closer to the floor, they may also be a good option.
You now know everything you need to know about yoga bricks, but also the practices and positions where they are used.