What is a Yoga Blanket Used For?
There is nothing better than snuggling up with a blanket at home! But you may also see blankets in your local yoga studio, or yoga teachers using them online. So, what do you actually use a yoga blanket for?
In short, it's another piece of equipment to help cushion your joints under poses and provide additional support when needed.
First, let’s figure out exactly what a yoga blanket is.
A yoga blanket is a single-layered piece of fabric that can be rolled or folded for added support or cushion in asanas (yoga poses).
A yoga blanket should:
- A medium balance between light and heavy to match the seasons.
- Thick enough when rolled up to provide a sturdy support for your body.
- At least the length of your mat and double the width.
How can I use a yoga blanket?
As a yoga teacher, I’ve come to see how a yoga blanket is one of the more versatile props you can use in class. Unlike a yoga block or bolster, you can really manipulate a yoga blanket to reinforce a posture.
A yoga blanket will help you to stay in poses for longer, by placing it under the bony parts of your body. In some poses like cat or cow pose the ground can feel hard underneath your knees which are bony anyway! You can open up a yoga blanket and place it under your knees. The same applies underneath the elbows or hips.
If you are somebody with a very tight back or tight hips, you will notice sitting in an upright position is very uncomfortable. Are you trying to make an L-shape or dandasana, but instead you end up slouching and making more of a J-shape? You can use a yoga blanket to sit on anytime you go to sit on your mat to help lift the spine, which will be much more comfortable.
If you have more than one blanket you can use them as a support underneath your legs if you're taking a butterfly pose or baddha konasana, you can place them underneath the thighs for extra support and you can rest into the pose without it feeling so tight in the inner thighs.
Helping hand in flexibility
A yoga blanket will help to support you while you develop your flexibility. Have you ever been to a yoga class and seen yogis just slip into a pose like matsyasana or fish pose and you're there thinking “What! When will I ever become that flexible?”
Cue a yoga blanket! By tucking a rolled blanket underneath your upper back in matsyasana you will be able to enjoy the posture for longer. Think about your yoga blanket as a helping hand!
Allows you to focus on other parts of the practice
Sometimes you'll be focusing on other things in a yoga practice like breathing exercises or the muscles and tissues in your body. You want to be able to sink into your practice and enjoy the stretch where it’s supposed to be.
There's an amazing pose called downward facing rest, and you can use blankets here underneath your head, hips, and then shins. Using these blankets can help support your body so you can focus on other things like diaphragmatic breathing in class.
When rolled up and placed under the bottom, a yoga blanket can be used to lift you in seated poses, so you feel nice and tall, yet relaxed with a nice long spine. When you first arrive on your mat it’s a great time to cushion your bum, close your eyes, and set an intention for the practice.
My favorite way to use a yoga blanket is during savasana. I like to cushion a yoga blanket in the small part of my neck so my spine and neck are in line, and so when I raise my head at the end of practice, I don't get any dizziness or neck twinges.
The perfect use of a yoga blanket as an actual blanket! During mediation or savasana, there is nothing better than cozying up with a blanket for an extra layer of protection.
Which yoga blanket should I buy?
It depends on your preference and what you will use a yoga blanket for.
Thinner blankets made from cotton or muslin are good for practicing in warmer climates as they’re light, natural yet long-lasting. Yet, thicker textured yoga blankets are beneficial for beginner yogis and those who prefer extra cushioning when flexibility training.
Inhale Exhale Muslin Yoga Blankets are good for those who don’t need as much physical support but want a little comfort. They’re lightweight yet still carry a textured feel.
El Paso Mexican Yoga Blankets are bright and vibrant in color and vary in texture and thickness. Their blankets weigh a mere 2 lbs, so you can take one with you to the beach right after class! Mexican blankets are favored in studios around the world as they’re a blend of polyester and cotton which is tougher than pure cotton.
Canyon Creek Mexican Yoga Blankets are a budget-friendly option for less than $20. They still have a superior feel which will enhance your yoga practice.
Caring for your yoga blanket
A yoga blanket needs TLC too and must be cared for properly.
A muslin blanket needs to be washed in cold water on a light setting in a machine, or by hand. Mexican blankets should also be washed in cold water on a delicate machine setting.
You should always follow the manufacturer's guidelines when washing a blanket to ensure colors don’t run, fabric disintegrates, or worst case - you shrink it!
Muslin and Mexican blankets are best dried by hanging. They can be thrown into a tumble dryer but on a low or no heat setting, and should be taken out before completely dry.
Folding your blanket will make a huge difference in the practice (even though you might not think it does). It may also prolong the shelf life of a blanket. You can find really simple tutorials on YouTube on how to get the perfect fold.
Blankets aren’t just for the studio!
You can use your yoga blanket at home too. You can bring it to the beach or park with you to sit on or use for support under your bum as you do in your yoga class! Experiment with it, especially on your mat, and see what works for you!