Yoga blocks are the Swiss army knives of the yoga world. You can do so much with this them, that you will definitely not regret the (very small) investment – and your yogi friends would be pumped to receive and learn how to use such an essential tool. At 4 inches x 9 inches x 6 inches, they basically look like slightly bigger and very lightweight bricks. But like the most inventive tools out there, the simplicity of their design is what makes then so perfect for almost anything related to your yoga practice. Here are some ways anyone, from yoga beginners to yoga pros, can use yoga blocks:

Support Tight Hips and Knees

One way to use a yoga block is to sit on one (or two) during poses that require your sit bones to be on the mat. Examples are Hero Pose (Virasana) or Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). Men tend to have tighter hips than women, so stacking one or two blocks on top of each other so that you don’t injure yourself trying to force your sit bones down is perfectly acceptable. Even yoga teachers do this. Moreover, if you feel tension in your knees during seated poses that require your knees to touch the mat (such as Head-to-Knee Forward Bend) or even during poses where you are meant to be in a simple sitting position, yoga blocks can really help.

Help Find Your Balance in Standing Poses

Beginners can have a particularly difficult time finding their balance in standing hands-to-floor poses. Even for seasoned practitioners there are always days that feel a bit more off-kilter and uncentered than usual. Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana) is a particularly difficult pose that requires you to have one arm on the ground, and one leg parallel to the mat, while opening the front side of your body, gazing at your opposite arm lifted straight up above you. Use a yoga block as a shortcut to the floor. Also, if your can’t get your head to touch the floor in Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana), you can put the yoga block on the floor to add height.

Add Extra Length

If you are extra flexible and can touch your toes, or even bind your hands and wrists around your feet in Seated Forward Bends (Paschimottanasanas), you can use a block to extend your reach and challenge yourself. By placing the wide side of the block against the soles of your feet, you add extra length. If even that isn’t enough, you can vary the angles to the 6- or 9- inch dimensions.

To Fine Tune Your Poses

A block can be placed in between the thighs to ensure that the legs are properly aligned in poses like Bridge Pose (Setu Bandasana) or Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), where the tendency is for your legs to splay out to the sides. It can even be used in more basic poses like Plank Pose (Chaturanga Dandasana) and Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) to make sure that the legs are active at all times.

There are many more uses of a yoga block. For a lightweight rectangular cube, it is a surprisingly useful piece of yoga equipment. Beginners and pros alike can benefit from the extra help a yoga block can provide.

To Personalize Your Yoga Retreat

Where are you or your yoga loving friends going to be using your yoga blocks this year? How about on a yoga retreat in the warm paradise of Nicaragua?

running fun on the beach yoga

Get Started

Try it out in your regular classes, or treat yourself to our Bucket List of Bliss yoga retreat with Cher Aslor in Nicaragua, March 19th – 25th, 2017  

Read the full original article from Do You Yoga.

A yoga mat is the number one essential tool for every yogi, and we’re excited that Yoga Journal just released their list of the best yoga mats of 2016! There’s something for every yogi – whether they are brand new to yoga, like to travel and practice, or are extra sweaty in the studio. Read on and pick the one that’s perfect for your yoga-loving friend:

  1. The Traveler

the traveler yoga mat

Is your yogi friend on the road a lot? Jade’s new Voyager mat takes up about as much space in your suitcase as a pair of folded jeans, and at 1.7 pounds, it’s lighter. Something else Yoga Journal loved: the YOGO Mat Ultralight, which has a built-in carrying handle that makes it perfect for far-away festivals.

Purple MatGreen Mat

Even more perfect for the yoga-loving traveler in your life – a yoga retreat in paradise! What could they love more than the opportunity to practice yoga in beautiful Nicaragua at our Bucket List of Bliss Retreat with Cher Aslor?

2. The Newcomer

the newcomer yoga mat

The Liforme mat reportedly takes no time to break in, and has a subtle graphic that helps newbies figure out proper foot and hand placement. Bonus: It’s made from planet-friendly naturally sourced rubber.

Pattern Mat

3. The Sweater

the sweater yoga mat

There’s nothing worse than your hands and feet sliding all over a mat, and Yoga Journal testers with the sweatiest extremities loved the stickiness of the Jade Harmony. Bonus: All of Jade’s mats are super sticky, and you can choose from various thicknesses and gorgeous colors to find one that feels customized for you.

Red Mat

4. The Art Lover

the art lover yoga mat

Want to get your yogi friend a mat that motivates by beauty and will score them compliments every time they roll it out? California-based artist Sophie Leininger hand-paints designs that she prints onto her Magic Carpet Yoga Mats. Yet these aren’t just pretty mats: testers didn’t slip in the slightest on the non- latex PVC surface.

Magic Carpet Mat

5. The Teacher

the teacher yoga mat

The Manduka Black Mat PRO and PROlite are the top choices of many yoga teachers for good reason: They’re sticky from the get-go, offer good cushioning, and last so long you won’t have to take advantage of the lifetime guarantee.

Black MatRed Mat

Yoga teachers can bring their new mats down to Nicaragua and lead a yoga retreat with us!

6. The Environmentalist

the environmentalist yoga mat

BareFoot Yoga Co.’s Original Eco Yoga jute mat is made from all-natural rubber and hessian, the material woven from jute fiber, making it one of the most sustainable on the market. Even better, testers loved how sticky it was from the outset.

Eco-friendly Mat

7. The Hot Yoga Lover

the hot yoga lover yoga mat

Yoga Design Lab’s gorgeous Combo Mat has a suede-like towel texture on top that sops up sweat and keeps you from slipping when that hot yoga class gets super steamy.

Purple Mat

8. The Tall Yogi

the tall yogi yoga mat

PrAna’s Large E.C.O. Yoga Mat is a generous 76 inches long by 30 inches wide, perfect for tall yogis or simply spreading (way) out in Savasana.

Long Mat

9. The Commuter

the commuter yoga mat

Looking for a lightweight mat to carry to class on foot or via bike or public transportation? Wai Lana’s Yogi Mat is your new portable go-to.

Light Mat

10. The Outdoorsman

the outdoorsman yoga mat

At a quarter-plus-inch thick, the CALYANA Professional Yoga Mat feels downright cushy compared to most others, yet it’s still light-weight enough to tote to class without a hassle. This mat is perfect for practicing on uneven or hard surfaces outside.

Thick Mat

11. The Well-Rounded Yogi

the well rounded yogi yoga mat

Gaiam’s Sol Dry-Grip Yoga Mat is an all-around great mat, thanks to rubber-free material (read: it’s not as stinky as some rubber mats initially are) and a polyurethane top layer that wicks away moisture and provides a slip-free grip.

Wicking Mat

12. The Sweater – Again

the sweater again yoga mat

Another option for a sweaty yogi. Oftentimes, dry-grip rubber mats don’t offer much cushioning. But lululemon athletica designed The Reversible Mat 5mm to feel softer on your knees and hips in floor poses. Plus, testers’ hands didn’t budge—no matter how hot and sweaty class got.

Teal Mat

13. The Traditionalist

the traditionalist yoga mat

They were used in India for centuries, and now yoga rugs are a growing trend. Yoga Journal testers loved Yogasana’s Earth Yoga Mat and Barefoot Yoga Co.’s Extra Long Mysore Practice Rug. Both have a tight weave that feels smooth on hands and feet, and are made of grippy, 100 percent cotton that works whether palms are dry or a bit moist. Bonus: They’re machine washable.

Blue RugBrown Rug

14. The Crowd Pleaser

the crowd pleaser yoga mat

Even if your friend isn’t a crowd pleaser, this mat is. Hugger Mugger’s Para Rubber Yoga Mat is the Goldilocks of the yoga-mat world: It’s just right when it comes to comfort, support, and grip. The mat is made from natural rubber that has a soft texture, its 1⁄4-inch thickness means plenty of padding, and it provides solid traction so that you won’t slip – starting with the first use.

Orange Mat

15. The Quote Lover

the quote lover yoga mat

With mantras like “breathe in love,” “i am enough,” and “you are awesome,” Affirmats Classic and XLong mats are a great choice if you need that empowerment nudge.

Motivational Mat

16. The Multitasker

the multitasker yoga mat

For those who take all different kinds of classes – it’s a double-duty genius: Kulae’s Elite Hybrid mat combines a mat and towel in one, with the top layer made from a sweat-absorbant bamboo/microfiber blend and a bottom layer constructed from eco-friendly polymer environmental resin (PER) that kept the mat perfectly in place on jump-through after jump-through.

Blue Mat

No matter what kind of yoga your friend loves (or that you love), a yoga retreat in Nicaragua is the perfect gift and vacation. Sign up together today for our Bucket List of Bliss Retreat with Cher Aslor – escape winter & come practice in paradise!

bucket list of bliss cher aslor yoga retreat