I refused to get a yoga block for the first 6 years I practiced yoga.
Perhaps we should start at the beginning. My journey with yoga started exactly 6 weeks after my oldest daughter was born. I had spent my whole life being “the skinny one” without trying, no matter how much I ate or how little I worked out (not the enviable life you may imagine; you can’t imagine the venom the word “skinny” can convey), and after gaining something in the neighborhood of 40 pounds during pregnancy I was a little out of my element. I knew I wanted to intentionally work toward getting in shape for the first time in my life but I was also the sole caregiver for my daughter 17 hours of the day while her dad was at work training with the Navy and had already realized I am not A Running Person. I had always had a hunch that yoga would be my kind of workout, though at first I only had the vaguest idea of all the ways in which this would be true.
The important thing for you to know is that being skinny (and therefore fulfilling one of society’s many arbitrary standards for beauty) had never made me like myself. First of all, there were plenty of other ways for me to physically disappoint the masses and secondly, as previously mentioned, I was not in many ways the ideal female specimen vis a vis being an opinionated loudmouth. So at one point self esteem was a real struggle in my life.
In initially approaching yoga, this immediately became a factor. I sought out beginner practices but ignored many of their modifications. I’m not here to mess around. I’m here to go the furthest and push the hardest. I can’t do that if I’m giving myself excuses.
The thing about yoga is, the more you do it the less you have to prove.
The longer I practiced, the more I found my body’s dialogue profound and sacred and worth listening to. The longer I practiced, the more giving myself space and grace and doing the thing my body really needed in that moment took precedence over always being in the most advanced version of a pose.
Yoga led to liking myself, which led to being kind to myself.
It’s weird that buying a book sized rectangle of foam is such a spiritual bookmark in my life.
Incredibly long intro aside, down to the review. There are many kinds of yoga blocks, and I have a fairly limited range of exposure to them due to my long time egotistical reticence. But I’ll tell you what I know.
Right now I have two yoga blocks in my possession. One is grey and manufactured by Gaiam. It measures 9x6x4. I paid 20 bucks for it at a local hippie store. It is made of a dense foam and has held up for over a year. The other is teal, made of the same foam, and measures 9x6x3. I paid 10 dollars at Wal-Mart for it (I don’t recall the brand but I believe it is a Wal-Mart response to Gaiam and similar companies). It has been in my near daily employ for probably 6 months.
They have been invaluable to my practice. Rather than holding me back, they have done entirely the reverse and allowed me to explore some poses beyond my unaided boundaries. There are times they also help me back off and take things a little gentler, and doing this when needed has improved my overall practice, strength, and flexibility. I use them most often in pigeon and seated forward fold but also sometimes utilize them in triangle, extended side angle, and low lunge when I need more space to work into the pose in question.
They are absolutely worth the money I invested in them. In the future, I would like to get a matching size for each block (sometimes you need support of the same height on either side), but I can usually use them together since they only differ in one measurement. Having both sizes is incredibly helpful, as they each tend to be “just the thing” for different poses (or different days). They are also absolutely worth any ego I sacrificed or delusions of grandeur they shattered.
If you’re going to do yoga, get a block. Today’s the best day.