A guide to different yoga props
Yoga Props can be used for a number of reasons in our practice. Exploring and playing with props open up endless possibilities to access new experiences, emotions and movements transforming your body and mind.
The use of props is often misunderstood, along with a stigma that if you are using a prop you are struggling with a pose. Props a not a sign of weakness, but part of an intelligent evolving practice. Through structured use of props you can elevate and support your practice regardless of your experience level.
Together with Manduka, we are here to clear up some of the myths and mysteries surrounding these tools. Whether these are your first steps into yoga or you have been practicing for years, we hope this guide helps understanding what equipment is available to you at every stage of your journey. Next, we will introduce to you the most essential yoga props: yoga strap, yoga bolster, yoga blanket, yoga towel and yoga block.
The multi-purpose tool of yoga! Straps help yogis get deeper in their asana, create traction, extend or lengthen your reach and assist with balance. Providing yourself with extra space opens up possibilities and ranges of motion to all level of yogi - from sinking further into a stretch to accessing an advanced bind you haven't quite been able to nail yet. Yoga straps are a practical tool when working to increase flexibility or opening up tighter muscles.
From Manduka's ecological yoga collection you can find two types of yoga straps - the Align and the Unfold. Both are with metal buckles - making them more secure and versatile than the looped ones you can find on the market - and come in various colors.
What is the difference between the Manduka Align and Unfold yoga strap?
The Align yoga strap is an advanced strap, modeled after the original strap design of the legendary BKS lyengar. Equipped with a Manduka proprietary buckle and a secure interlocked system to eliminate slipping and provide support in even the most challenging positions. No time wasted - easy to buckle and unbuckle. Made with 100% natural, unbleached cotton for eco-friendly, comfortable grip and sturdiness.
The Unfold yoga strap is perfect entry level strap, great for beginners who need help with flexibility or intermediate yogis looking to try new positions. Slightly narrower and thinner that the more traditional Align strap, the Unfold strap is perfect for on the go. It is a square profile strap with an innovative sure-secure buckle that holds tight. Made from 100% unbleached eco-friendly cotton.
Benefits to using yoga strap
- Improve flexibility and refine alignment and form
- Help to stop you "overreaching" in poses and inadvertently tensing your body
- With a strap, you can hold deeper into an asana without compromising your form, allowing you to release, relax and breathe into the pose.
Tips when using a strap
Be mindful that the strap is not there to help you pull your body further which will invite tension across the neck and shoulders. But instead it is there to give you stability and security in position where you might lack a point of contact. Whatever the pose, try to maintain a soft grip keeping your shoulders and neck soft.
For some the best and most loved prop is the bolster. This humble prop is the gateway to opening up a whole world of restorative yoga. Helping yogis to experience a deeper sense of release, relaxation and openness. Manduka bolsters are designed to provide superior support and comfort in restorative postures and deep breathing exercises. The support is softer than a lot of the traditional bolsters using buckwheat as the cushion. Through the medium firmness they also offer relief for stiffness, pregnancy aches and joint pain and can be support very specific parts of the body, allowing the anatomy to function without strain or tension.
How to choose between shapes?
The Manduka Enlight Rectangular Bolster (71cm x 30 cm x 13cm - 1.1kg) is great when you are first introducing a bolster into your practice. The wider, rectangular design which offers more coverage across the back when laying down and a flatter feel when being used under the wrists for support. Its lower height provides a more stable surface area when laid flat. You can also sit on it in seated postures and seated forward bends and it provides solid support in meditation postures. This is the most versatile bolster in Manduka's collection.
The Manduka Enlight Round Bolster (69cm x 23cm x 23cm - 1kg) has the traditional round that gives you the ability to go deeper into your open heart stretch. The curved, round design helps create a curve in the body to deepen natural arching and open the chest. It has a taller height than the rectangular, which provides more support for forwarding bends. Check out also the new Van Gogh designed bolster.
Benefits to using a yoga bolster
- Relieves stress, tension and joint pain
- Deep soothing effect on the mind and nervous system
- Improves blood circulation and reduce inflammation
Yoga blankets are a gentle source of warmth and support at times when a block or a bolster seem to be too much. They are used for any postures relating to meditation and rest or refinement in poses, for support and alignment. Some yogis like placing it under their knees or back or wrapping themself during Savasana for added comfort. Blankets can also bring the floor to you, purposely to soften up hard areas and weigh down parts of the body. Yoga blankets are loved for their versatility. Unlike other props, a blanket can be folded into a variety of shapes to suit different postures. Whether you need the blanket to be rolled, folded, or laid out flat, you can adjust the shape of it to suit your specific needs.
What is the difference between the wool and cotton blanket?
The Manduka Recycled Wool Yoga Blanket is moldable and foldable to support your body in restorative and dynamic yoga poses. You can wrap yourself in ultimate warmth, comfort and versatility. The recycled wool blanket is made of 75% recycled wool and 25% recycled synthetic fibers.
The Manduka Recycled Cotton Yoga Blanket provides both versatility and coverage and is slightly larger than the wool blanket. You can fold, roll and stack it in any way that supports your pose - the luxe, rustic fabric moves the way you want it to. The cotton blanket is made of the highest quality cotton blend blanket with an overlocked edge to prevent fraying.
Benefits to using a yoga blanket
- Help to stay longer and get maximum benefit from recovery poses
- Prevent bad posture with subtle adjustment
- Relieves stress, tension and joint pain
Yoga blocks are one of the most all purpose props in yoga. An essential yoga prop, blocks bring the ground closer to you as well as provide deeper stretches. They can also help you with alignment in balancing poses or serve as a great platform for release tension. Yoga blocks should be part of the foundation of any yogis practice regardless of the experience.
To keep all yogis supported Manduka offers a variety of different shapes and size blocks.
Why all the shapes and sizes?
Yoga practitioners come in all shapes and sizes, so it is important that blocks also come variety of sizes that accommodate everyone.
- The wider the block the more stability you will get.
- If you have a smaller frame or looking for just a little support in a pose then heading towards a smaller block is probably better for you.
- Make sure to find a good fit for your hands. If you are a tall person with limited flexibility and big hands, get a larger-sized block. It will raise the floor higher in standing asanas. In contrast, if you are a bit more on the flexible side and have smaller hands, get a smaller block. It will be more comfortable to grip and provide support closer to the floor.
- For the yogi moving between studios, a pair of smaller blocks is perfect for putting in your yoga bag and will make a big difference in your daily commute.
For general use, this is the universal size for most practitioners. These blocks are studio staples. They offer three different heights so you can choose how much support or length you need. This way, you can easily modify asanas according to your flexibility and enjoy a smooth and seamless practice. They are also the favorites of many practitioners to help you sit with ease and give good posture for sitting pose and meditation.
Newest addition to the range. Smaller blocks are great for practitioners with smaller frames. Regular blocks might be too wide for some people. The smaller size are really versatile, offering a good maneuverability on the mat, they are smaller, more portable and a good space saving alternative to the standard blocks. Ideal for yogis on the go or for those who want blocks at home but don't have much storage space. If your kids are joining you on the mat look for the mini foam blocks. These shorter dimensions, a super lightweight material and extremely durable makes them perfect for children.
Foam vs cork - Why do we offer both?
Manduka Recycled Foam Blocks are extremely dense and lightweight. The lightweight foam makes effortless transition between poses and easier to manage for beginners. Manduka foam blocks are made from 50% recycled materials. The high density foam also provides a stable grounding connection to the floor as it does not compress or dent when pressure or weight is applied. This also ensures the durability os the product, to a level that has been tried and tested by the best yoga studios all over the world.
Manduka Cork Blocks are very firm, more dense, and heavier than their foam counterparts. This weight brings unparalleled stability keeping you grounded and secured throughout your pose. The extra weight allows you to use them as weights for strength exercises also. The Lean version is slimmer, weighs half the amount of the regular cork block but is equally supportive. We use fine grain natural and sustainably harvested cork which ensures the maximum density in both blocks to create premium feel, durability and stability when under pressure or weight.
We have all seen the sign outside the hot yoga studio "Bring your own yoga towel", but we need to remember that these simple yet transformative pieces of textile are for all types of yoga, from yoga studios to beach and home, and can help you in the most unexpected ways.
Yoga towels are for use way beyond a sweaty intense flow, they are for all and every type of practice to hep you with your grip and moisture management around any yoga mat.
What is a Yoga Towel for?
- Provide extra grip when your hands or feet start to release heat and moisture.
- Absorb excess moisture aka sweat from collecting on top of your mat.
What is the difference between the Yogitoes and the eQua towel?
The main difference is the feel of the towel, as both eQua and Yogitoes towels will absorbs sweat and offer excellent grip when damp. However, due to their design, they offer a different experience when practicing.
- The most trusted performance yoga towel
- Grips the mat with patented Skidless Technology that uses 100% silicone nubs
- Faster absorption
- Higher saturation
- Made from 4+ recycled plastic water bottles
- Ideal for sweaty practices like hot yoga and functions as an absorbent layer between you and your mat
- The most versatile performance yoga towel
- Amazing first sweat activated grip
- Good absorption
- Good grip mat
- Ideal for all types of yoga including hot, vinyasa and power
Would you like to learn more about the yoga mats and how to find the right yoga mat for your needs? In this article, we compare the ethical and ecological yoga mats from Manduka.