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History of Props – bricks and blocks

For me, prop is not only for the Asana.  It should contribute to the position of the body which in turn can let the mind be calm and state of ‘Chitta Vṛtti Nirodhaḥ‘ be experienced.  Body is my first prop.  The body is a prop to the soul. – B.K.S. Iyengar


For 2013, RIMYI published a calendar telling the story of props. In this post, we feature Mr. Iyengar’s thoughts on one of the most commonly used props, the wooden brick.




The ‘classic’ brick (or block) is a cuboid – a rectangular box shape – made of wood…

These can also be made of bamboo, cork or foam.



We also find wedge-shaped pieces, half-rounds or quarter-rounds, or even ‘less-than-half’ rounds which are quite shallow.  These are nearly always made of wood.


In the RIMYI calendar, Mr. Iyengar tells us…

Nowadays bricks are an integral part of standing poses, but they were first used for Shirshasana to reduce pain in the neck and heaviness in the head.  Many people could not do Shirshasana, so I used to give them one horizontal and one vertical brick. The vertical one was for the back near the wall and the horizontal one offered exact support to the shoulder blades. It proved to be very effective.

Brick is helpful in other postures too.

In Supta Virasana, the back does not touch the ground completely especially in the region of lumbar spine. To support this area and to make the asana comfortable, I was trying different materials like blankets, pillows, rolls of mattresses etc. but they were not helping.

I expected something firm and circular at the top, which every material failed to deliver. A soft support only provides a cushion.  This style is needed for people who have soreness or tenderness in the muscles. Otherwise, dense props like the ones made of wood that I designed are better.

I thought of converting the Shirshasana brick and made it suitable for Supta Virasana. A design for semicircular brick came into action, other versions developed rapidly.

Check out how some Canadian yogis use blocks to support their practices…

Tell us how you use blocks in your own practice or how you use them in your classes to help students work with asanas they find challenging.  Send your thoughts to  


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