Yoga Blocks: Cork Vs. Foam
Foam blocks are more portable.
Yoga blocks act like an extension of your limbs in Triangle pose and support you as you sit in Hero. But, with the different types of blocks on the market, it's hard to decide which one is right for you. A block isn't just for beginners or people with physical limitations, more experienced practitioners use a block to learn new challenging poses.
A block made out of cork or foam isn't necessarily superior; it depends what you want out of your prop. Choose one based on your preferences and your needs. A foam block is cushier, lighter and more portable. A cork block feels more substantial, but can be a little too hard-surfaced for some bodies.
Ask yourself the following questions when deciding which to use:
Are You Going to Travel With It?
A foam block slides easily into a suitcase and weighs between 3 and 12 ounces. You can easily take it on the go if you walk or drive to your yoga studio.
Do Looks Matter?
If you want a block to match your mat or outfit, choose cork. It comes in one color: cork. It's a neutral, so it goes with everything. Foam blocks range in color from purple to orange and just about everything in between. Lighter colors of foam do tend to attract dirt easily, and all can scratch or dent.
You'll find an array of props in a well-equipped studio.
What Type of Class Do You Attend?
If you primarily head to a restorative class, in which the block supports your back and your head, you want foam. Foam is soft on your third eye and gives a little when you lay your back on it. Because it's firmer, a cork block provides a little more stability. It's unlikely to slide out from under you or feel wobbly. You'll appreciate cork if you use it for balancing, such as in Crow pose or Half Moon.
Do You Sweat A lot?
If yoga leaves you dripping, go for cork. It absorbs sweat better than foam and won't get as slippery. Over time, though, a sweat-upon cork block can get a little funky. It's much harder to clean than foam.
Choose a yoga block color according to your preference.
Cork blocks tend to be more expensive, but are usually more eco-friendly than foam. When you go to purchase a block, you might find different sizes. The standard used by master instructor B.K.S. Iyengar in his practices was 9 inches by 4.5 inches by 3 inches, but the most common one you'll find for purchase in the West is 4x6x9. But, some people might prefer one that is slightly larger, or smaller, depending on hand size and body weight.
Andrea Boldt has been in the fitness industry for more than 20 years. A personal trainer, run coach, group fitness instructor and master yoga teacher, she also holds certifications in holistic and fitness nutrition.