The most recognizable of all props is the yoga brick or block. Mr. Iyengar invented this simple concept of creating support in many of the Asanas, whether they are standing and seated postures, or balancings. A block is used to create a bearing surface to work off of, almost like a small extension of the floor or baseboard.
The first time a practitioner is exposed to a block is probably in the seated posture — swastikanasana (see “The Art of Sitting“) Originally these blocks were created from local wood in India, usually extremely heavy tropical woods were used, sometimes crudely made.
Since those days things have changed. Sizes have become more standard and a variety of materials are used, such as petroleum-based foam, cork or bamboo.
Heart Of The Bear Yoga blocks are more similar to the original concept from domestically obtained woods (California or Pacific Northwest). My blocks are made either from new FSC certified and/or recycled timbers. All are hand selected rift and quartered Douglas fir that are free of knots and will not crack. The edges are rounded and soft with a water-clear finish allowing the block to look as if the wood was freshly milled. (*Sometimes small knots or pitch pockets are allowed. All are filled with a water-based putty and finished.)
The process to get them to the customer is fairly long as these beautiful wooden ingots are a lot of handwork to complete, involving selecting, cutting, sealing and allowing air drying for a minimum of one year. The process also involves jointing, planing, surfacing, sanding and finishing. Working by myself, I can make about 6 to 8 blocks a day.
I keep two blocks in my office (one quarter round, one square edged) on my unheated floor knowing full well they will get scratched and stepped on with shoes, pick up grit, and be spilled upon, as these blocks can take a lot of abuse and are virtually indestructible (the finish will mar, of course, and they will ding). The reason being, to have them readily available when seated to elevate my knees, support my hips, and keep my feet warm in winter, elevated off the cold floor. I have even used them while doing dishes to elevate one foot at a time, releasing tension in the back!
Photos courtesy of my web designer.