Are your Yoga blocks tipping over? Bolsters too bulky and pillows too soft? Blankets, bolsters, pillows, and blocks are used a great deal in Iyengar Yoga and in ‘restorative’ Yoga. These schools or styles of Yoga are practiced for illness, injury, or trauma resulting from injury, or a long-term pathology such as spinal issues, clinical depression, etc. The restorative style of practicing Yoga is deeply relaxing and physically corrective where the need presents itself. Iyengar Yoga is known for its strict, specific physical placement demands and learning to creatively use props such as Yoga blankets will help you meet those demands. Usually, your instructor will guide you in the proper use of these soft props. However, when you are practicing at home you should be familiar with a few basic Yoga blanket folds.
In selecting a Yoga blanket you will have a choice between wool, wool blends, cotton, cotton blends, or synthetics. A thick wool blanket has more weight and is stiffer than cotton. A wool blanket will offer more support than a pillow or bolster if you learn to stack them. There are two issues to be aware of if you choose wool: some people are allergic to wool and this can cause skin burns; also, while your Yoga studio may sell wool blankets, they are not always of the highest quality and they may have a short lifespan. Cotton or a cotton blend makes a great blanket with a long lifespan and is cool during the summer months.
Let’s take a few minutes to learn some basic folds:
1)Basic Yoga fold: Fold your Yoga blanket in half widthwise. Fold it in half three more times. This is a basic Yoga support fold for a short blanket. If you stack your blankets with this fold, you can use the stack in place of a Yoga block that doesn’t have as large a footprint and won’t balance as easily. Try it in Triangle Pose if you have problems reaching the floor with a flat hand. This fold is also excellent as a single blanket behind your shoulders for the Supported Shoulder Stand Pose. In this pose the blanket edge meets the base of the skull which tips back encouraging your neck (spine C- section)to retain its natural curve.
2)Basic double fold: Fold your Yoga blanket in half lengthwise. Fold it in half three more times. This is a basic Yoga support fold for a long blanket. This is an excellent fold if you have scoliosis and you find that Corpse Pose at the end of your routine is difficult to maintain. A bolster can be used, however, you may decide that it is too thick and bulky. Try this blanket fold to fill the space in the curve of your spine.
3)Basic tube fold: Fold the blanket one time in either direction, depending on how long you want the tube. After a single fold you may roll your tube, or fold it once more before rolling your tube. This can be used as a support under the knee for seated forward folds (bends) where you want to support the knee with a slight bend thus making the stretch on the Hamstring muscles a bit easier and safer. Try it in seated Head To Knee Pose.
Yoga blankets make a great alternative to blocks, bolsters, and pillows.