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I started doing yoga many years ago but have to admit I gave up when I became a mother because of lack of time and enthusiasm but I have taken it up again because my girls are grown up so I have no excuse! I decided to go the 'do-it-yourself' route through using books and DVDs but became very lazy so I joined the yoga group at the local over- 55s venue and really enjoy my weekly sessions. I now keep up with yoga at home during the week too and have found it to be beneficial to my health plus helping with stress.
When I first started there seemed to be very few yoga mats on the market but now they seem to be quite widely available on the high street (eg Argos and TK Max) as well as online and at specialist shops. The range of mats etc is quite daunting and vary from thin rush ones to the very posh and very expensive type. I took the advice given from my yoga teacher who suggested using these Yoga Mad Full Yoga Blocks (not to be confused with yoga bricks) which I bought online for £4 each including p&p.
As far as I am aware they are available in either blue (as shown) or purple and each one measure approximately 12" x 8" x 2" and are made from a top quality EVA foam which has proved to be quite tough and has not scratched or gone out of shape because it has memory. The blocks came in heat-sealed plastic with a sheet of paper telling me a little about the blocks and featuring a couple of photos of an extremely fit woman doing yoga which made me feel pretty inadequate!
Standard yoga mats are great for floor exercising but sometimes you need more support for the head and neck - eg when performing inversions - and this is where the blocks really help because they not only support but also cushion and grip to the floor making me feel safe therefore relaxed. When it comes to doing shoulder stands though I would prefer to use 4 of these which would not only mean paying out more but also wondering about storage in my small place?
I do like these blocks because they also help support my back even when I am not doing yoga but personally I would recommend getting advice before purchasing any type of yoga mat/block/brick as everyone's needs are different so they might not be suitable for everyone.
We use these yoga blocks in my pregnancy yoga class, and when I asked our instructor where I could get some from, she pointed me in the direction of good old Amazon. I managed to pick up a pair for around £11, which is ideal because I use two at a time for what I use them for.
The blocks are available in purple or blue, and I went for the purple ones purely because this is the colour we use in our class and I associate it with being there and feeling relaxed. They are made from Hi-Density EVA foam, which to you and me means they are made from foam and feel light. The size on the product description is 300 x 205 x 50 mm - without having to get your ruler out, I would liken this to the thickness of a phone book (remember them?) but maybe a bit shorter in length.
During yoga, I use these blocks to sit on, as this helps my lower back to be in the correct posture. Our yoga instructor advises to avoid slouching on sofas, but instead to sit on a hard backed chair, our birthing balls, or even the floor if that's comfortable for us. I struggle with sitting on the floor, which can make some of the yoga moves uncomfortable for me, so she has told me to sit on a couple of these blocks and it takes the strain off my back. The blocks can also be used as supports for example under the knees, when doing yoga positions which can feel uncomfortable if you're not overly agile. Part of our yoga class involves a guided meditation, and to do this we have to lie in the recommended "sleeping" position for pregnancy, which is on the left hand side, with your left leg straight (ish) and your right knee bent and slightly elevated. I use these blocks to support my knee, and it creates such a comfortable position I have been known to nod off in the meditation sessions!
At home, I use my blocks for the same purposes, whenever I get chance to practise the yoga techniques I've learned in the class. They are useful blocks not only for yoga but also I have been known to use them to put behind my back to support my back and ensure I'm not slouching - in fact I'll probably end up using one of these in work on my swivel chair before I go off on maternity leave. The blocks are good quality, and I know these will stay in good condition for a long time because they're the same ones my yoga instructor has used for many many classes with different students over the years, and hers are always in decent condition. They're also convenient, not being huge to store or heavy to move.
I would recommend these to anyone looking for some yoga blocks to help support joints and encourage good posture.
(Review may also appear on Ciao under the username Gingerkitty)
Yoga Block manufactured in EVA foam and ideal for supporting shoulders or sitting on. Size: 300 x 205 x 50mm, Price shown is for 2 blocks