The sometimes physically demanding poses seen in yoga can be daunting to a novice. Thankfully, there are quite a few tools that can make your yoga practice a lot easier. A yoga block is a nice little helper that you can use to facilitate many yoga poses, especially the ones that involve standing stretches. A yoga block is basically a brick-shaped "thing" made of cork, wood or hard-foam. They are usually about 9 x 6 x 4 inches in size.
How You Can Use Your Yoga Block
Let's say, for example, that you're having trouble reaching the floor when doing a forward fold or a triangle pose. Using a yoga block will let you rest your hands on a relatively stable surface even if you can't quite reach the floor yet. By slowly changing the position of the rectangular block so that you rest your hands on a side that's closer to the ground, you can train yourself to eventually be flexible enough to reach the floor without using it. So you basically have three levels of difficulty (4, 6 and 9 inches) depending on how you use the block.
But Wait, There's More
Stretching is not the only thing a yoga block can be used for. It can also be used for general strength exercises. Putting a yoga block in between your legs or holding one in your hands can introduce an additional element of resistance during strength training, by making the exercise more intense and satisfying. As already mentioned, most yoga blocks are made of foam, which is cheaper, cork or wood. When you do strength exercises, the use of a heavier yoga block can prove to be more helpful than using a very light one. More weight, means more work for you.
You can buy a yoga block for under ten dollars, so they're not only useful but also quite cheap. If you're just starting out with yoga, you might really want to consider getting one, especially if you're having issues with stretching or flexibility, which is something that first-time yoga practitioners commonly encounter. By the way, if you're too strapped for cash, you can just find something similarly shaped like a smooth piece of wood.