9 Great Alternatives to Yoga Blocks (That Actually Work)

The practice of yoga has grown significantly since its humble beginning well over two millennia ago; for many beginner yogis, as well as more practiced ones, using a yoga block is essential to getting the most out of their classes. Yoga blocks aid the body in settling into a pose, while also supporting range of motion.

While foam or wood commercially-bought blocks are the most common to serve this purpose, there are numerous alternatives to utilize in lieu of a standard block. Before shopping for a block, try out one of these substitutes; you will likely already have one hiding on a shelf or in a closet!

Use Household Items

Every house is different, and each has its own special traits; with all the unique purposes of house sections, you are bound to find something to suit your yoga block needs. From the basement to the attic, these household items can be used as quality yoga block substitutes.

Use a Book or Stack of Books

Books can be tall or short, thick or thin; finding a few proper-sized books and stacking them atop one another can serve as a makeshift yoga block. Or, perhaps you have an old phonebook or dictionary in a closet somewhere- this too can be used as a yoga support tool.

a few proper-sized books and stacking them atop one another can serve as a makeshift yoga block.

For the most part, a 4-inch yoga block will get the job done, with typical dimensions tending to linger around 4” x 6” x 9”. Finding a perfect fit matching these measurements is not a necessity, although ensuring the book stack will support your weight is needed.

For the safety of your precious books, a good idea is to tape them, especially on the edges of the books. This will help prevent any additional ware, as well as prevent the fringes from stabbing you or being uncomfortable.

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Free, sturdy, adjustable

Drawbacks: Potential wear and tear

Fold a Towel or Blanket

Another possession found in just about every bathroom or bedroom is the towel, as well as its close cousin, the blanket. Whether you hang it on a line or fold it on a bed, both towels and blankets can be folded up to form a tight little yoga block-like structure.

Both towels and blankets can be folded up to form a tight little yoga block-like structure.

While not nearly as solid or firm as books, fabric-based materials offer a different perk: the quality of being soft. If you prefer comfort over outright body support, a folded towel can stand as a substitute for a yoga block.

Not all towels and blankets are suitable to be modified into makeshift yoga blocks; some are too large or too small, while other fabrics are too thin or thick. In the case that your material is too abundant, one solution is to wrap rubber bands or string around it, to compress the towel and thus tighten it up a bit.

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Usually free, adjustable, soft

Drawbacks: May not be very sturdy, may offer less support compared to other options

Source: Jennifer Leigh

Grab a Firm Pillow

The scavenger hunt for a yoga block substitute may extend into the bedroom, with pillows existing as another option for yogis seeking a softer yoga block. Since pillows are meant to support the head and neck during sleep, they do not support the body during yoga as much as other objects.

Pillows make up what they lack in support with comfort; for individuals with sensitive backsides or those who do not require much aid in balancing or reaching difficult positions, a pillow may be all that is needed. Pillows may also be stacked to give more leverage.

A pillow as a soft yoga block or doing yoga on a bed?

All pillows are worth testing out, and as long as they work with the individual using them, all is well. On the other hand, before sitting on your pillow, target a firm pillow rather than a soft one; the firmer pillow offers more potential to support the body, while fluffy pillows are unsurprisingly more likely to simply squish under the body.

Doing Yoga on a Bed

To answer a potential question roused by the thought of using a pillow for yoga, yoga is widely practiced on a bed or mattress. In fact, many individuals are more motivated to perform yoga just before going to sleep or just after waking up, as opposed to in the middle of the day.

While the number of yoga positions to reach while on a bed are limited when compared to the freedom of a yoga studio, there are still numerous productive ones worth a try. Plenty of health benefits also exist as side effects of yoga; trying yoga at the beginning of the day is a great way to exploit these benefits.

A firm pillow can be used as a yoga block just as a bed can be used as a yoga surface. When used in conjunction, both practices can be very effective.

Related articles: Can You Do Yoga In Your Bed?

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Can encourage yoga before bed or after waking up, soft, comfortable, can be stacked

Drawbacks: May be too soft for people, offers little support

Source: Laura McMullen

Test Out Pantry Items

A pantry closet tends to hold all sorts of kitchen items, most notably dishes, foods, and utensils; however, a relatively unknown fact is that many also hold yoga blocks. Taking the shape of large, family-sized cans or storage containers, pantry items are multifunctional, solid objects that can be utilized in the kitchen as well as the yoga studio.

You could use a Family-sized can as a yoga block.

Examples of Objects to Use:

  • Family size beans
  • Nut butter
  • Large canned fruit containers
  • Canned coffee container (make sure the lid is on and secure)

Examples of Objects Not to Use

  • Empty cardboard boxes
  • Permeable objects, especially those in plastic bags
  • Sharp-edged containers

Before practicing yoga on it, be sure to test out an object. Place some weight on the item to ensure it is not going to snap.

When weighing up an item to decide whether or not it is suitable to support your body weight when performing yoga, consider the material of the item. It is best to stay away from softer materials as they are more likely to bend or crumble under weight. Sturdier materials will serve you better and perform under pressure.

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Multifunctional, free, sturdy

Drawbacks: May be uncomfortable for some to sit on food, not usually adjustable

Use Garage Items

The modern garage or shed exists as a little snapshot of life; perhaps an old bike or a family photo sits around to remind you of fun times. In fact, with all the bits and bobs present in a typical garage, a yoga block may be waiting around the corner in a variety of forms.

With all the bits and bobs present in a typical garage, a yoga block may be waiting around the corner in a variety of forms.

Find Laundry Items

Both laundry detergent and laundry boxes of laundry powder, in the right sizes and circumstances, can provide solid support in a variety of poses required by the seasoned yogi. Again, the dimensions of the items mentioned above may mean that they are not suitable to properly support the user without sliding or becoming a hindrance.

Small boxes of wipes or other sanitary items that resemble a block in some way, shape, or form may provide you with proper support and aid in yoga. Once more, thinking outside the block will almost certainly lead to better results when looking for a substitute for an orthodox yoga block.

A box of wipes can be used as a yoga block.

As a bit of a side note, if your synthetic or wooden yoga block gets dirty, washing it with a few drops of laundry detergent can clean it up easily. Gentle detergent is the way to go to avoid any stains.

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Can be used to wash blocks and other yoga gear, some individuals may have a vast selection to choose from

Drawbacks: Many items are not the proper shape or size, some individuals may have a limited selection to choose from

Source: William McCoy

Grab a Paint Can

Paint cans come in an abundance of sizes, and some may be the perfect item to use as a yoga block. The good news regarding paint cans is that they require no additional maintenance, unlike the wood blocks or bricks.

Paint cans come in an abundance of sizes, and some may be the perfect item to use as a yoga block.

An interesting perk about the paint can is that they can also be used to paint the outside of the yoga block. This, coupled with a paintbrush, can turn a dull block into one with color and perhaps even a design.

One consideration to keep in mind when choosing a paint can is the lid: if the lid is not securely fastened, or if the lid has been removed in the past, paint could leak out and ruin your experience with yoga. Just the same, empty paint cans may topple over if they are not weighed down with paint or another object or substance, like water.

How to Secure a Loose Paint Lid

In the case that you do decide on using the paint can as your yoga block, there are a few considerations to keep in mind to ensure your lid is secure. To clarify, this section is meant for those whose paint cans have been opened, and are no longer sealed as they were bought.

Plastic Wrap and Hammer

The most common method to secure a paint lid is to place some plastic wrap around the opened part of the paint can. Then, simply mallet (a rubber mallet is less likely to damage the can) or hammer on the lid. This will not only secure the lid to the can, but also prevent any air from entering the can in case there is paint present.

For those choosing a hammer to secure the paint lid, make sure to place a cloth on top of the can to soften the blow; this step will help to prevent any denting in the can.

Before beginning, wipe off any paint on the rim with a paper towel or disposable cloth. This step will prevent any potential rust caused by the dried paint, and allow for a tighter seal.

Source: Matt Fox

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Can be bought in a variety of sizes, multifunctional, sturdy

Drawbacks: May have a dented lid, may have an uncomfortable lid

Fill a Shoebox

Already widely multifunctional from holding shoes to re-using as a gift box, you can use shoeboxes for yet another purpose: a yoga block. On their own, shoe boxes are simply rectangular boxes and are easily squashed. For this reason, in order to successfully transform a shoebox into a yoga block, it will need to be filled with something.

Fill a shoebox with paper so you can use it as a yoga block.

Items to Fill A Shoebox With:

  • Books
  • Paper
  • Clothes
  • Smaller boxes
  • Flat items

The shoebox should be nearly full, if not completely full, and supportive of your body weight, once you are done adding items to it. In the case that you leave empty space in the shoebox, it will likely dent or implode upon itself; once your shoebox implodes, there is no coming back. Just the same, refrain from overfilling the box as this will also cause issues.

The average length of a shoebox is between 13 and 14 inches, which is too long for yoga for some individuals. If this is the case, the best idea is to use a different item as a yoga block. Avoid cutting the shoebox in half as this will probably just break your box and waste your time.

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Low maintenance, easily replaceable

Drawbacks: May not be firm, dent easily, have to be filled with other items

Make Your Own Blocks

In the case that you were unable to find a resident yoga block in your house, fear not! There is yet another solution to uncover your prime alternative to standard yoga blocks. By making your own, you will be able to adjust your block to your needs, without burning a hole in your wallet.

Make a Block from a Thick Piece of Wood or Brick

Instead of purchasing a yoga block, some individuals prefer to make their own. A spare 2×4 wood plank or loose brick is sufficient for yogis looking for an object equal to the support offered by a store-bought yoga block.

You can use an old plank as a yoga block.

One notable advantage offered by the homemade block is that it can be tailored to the exact size you prefer. Starting with an extra-long or tall piece of wood gives you the freedom to customize and adjust to make it your very own block.

Whether it be from a stump of a tree or a loose brick used for a DIY project, your block may need some polishing up before it is ready to be sat upon during a yoga session. While there are a variety of techniques to choose from when sanding down and shining up a block or brick, the main ones are as follows:

  • Handheld sandpaper (for less extreme, smaller sanding purposes)
  • Coarse-grade sandpaper (for sanding large surfaces and removing paint)
  • Sanding blocks (the most efficient and effective method for sanding materials like wood)
  • Covering with thick paint or stucco (for deep grooves or jagged surfaces that need more work than sanding to become smooth)

Sanding a Block

Bricks are not usually sanded down, although for individual bricks the task is not unheard of. As for pieces of wood, the widely-used method of using a sanding block is straightforward and effective. These pieces can be stacked together to create a suitable height and width for any individual’s needs.

For more information on using a sanding block, as well as sandpaper, head over to this link.

When sanding any material, dust is liable to be created from it, meaning proper protective equipment should be worn. This means goggles and glasses should be worn by those sanding as well as those in the surrounding area. Sanding should also be done outdoors to prevent the inhalation of dust particles.

Source: diynetwork.com

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Adjustable for the most part, sturdy, customizable, low cost, very supportive

Drawbacks: More work-intensive than other options

Make Recycled Cardboard Blocks

The final- and perhaps most innovative- alternative to a standard yoga block on this list is a stack of cardboard boxes. Simply filling a cardboard box with a material like other cardboard or newspaper, will give you an easy, well-rounded yoga block.

A cardboard Amazon box once destined for the recycling bin can be transformed anew, with a little open-mindedness and tape. Just about any lightweight material can be placed in the box, so long as it does not overflow or poke any holes into the cardboard. The box should close firmly, although it should still be full.

A cardboard Amazon box once destined for the recycling bin can be transformed to a yoga block.

Once your box has been filled with your material of choice, tape the sides up; this will maintain the shape and structure of the box. If you are feeling artsy, feel free to decorate the box with different colors of tape, or create a design. 

Perks and Drawbacks

Perks: Nature-friendly, recycled, can be adjusted

Drawbacks: May be too soft if made incorrectly, requires handiwork

Whichever alternative choice you select, do not be afraid of thinking outside the box, and remember that the activity is more important than the equipment. In yoga and life, remember that you can achieve more than you think. Namaste.

Sita

Mother of three and Yogi of 20+ years and 200 Hour Certified Yoga Teacher. I am also a Certified Thai massage therapist and I have taught Gymnastics for more than 10 years. In the last couple of years, I've been a big promotor of intermittent fasting.

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