When I started yoga I was very worried about my inflexibility and tightness. I didn’t think I had a chance of getting into many poses that other yogis were doing. Thank goodness for yoga props! They have been a mainstay of my yoga practice and I continue to use them. I strongly believe in sustainable yoga products, so below are a list of the best eco friendly yoga props.

Best Eco Friendly Yoga Props

Eco Friendly Yoga Prop

Dimensions

Best Feature


Manduka Recycled Wool Blanket

3.5 lbs; 82'' x 60'''

Overlocked edge stitching to prevent fraying

Yoloha Cork Yoga Block set

9"W x 5.5"H x 3.5"D

Rounded edges add comfort and ease in gripping

Manduka Enlight™ Rectangular Bolster

2.5 lbs; 28" x 11.75" x 5"

Hidden zipper construction for a smooth, seamless finish.

Jade Yoga Strap

8'

Heavy duty soft cotton with heavy duty white nickle D ring

Hugger Mugger Recycled Plaid Blanket

4.2 lbs; 70'' x 75''

Long lasting and durable

Gaiam Cork Brick

9"W x 5.5"H x 3"D

Textured surface provides traction

Barefoot Yoga Rectangular Bolster

6 lbs; 24" x 11" x 7"

Removable, washable, zippered cover

Manduka Align Yoga Strap

8' or 10'

Made from strong, durable, unbleached cotton webbing 

Stretch now Organic Cotton Yoga Strap

10"

Unique easy-release buckle holds strap securely in place.

What are yoga props?

Yoga props are an intrinsic element of yoga but their role can be misunderstood or worse neglected by many yogi’s. Many assume that yoga props, like blocks and straps are for beginners who are unable to do certain poses. The fact is that anyone doing yoga will benefit from using yoga props. They help to deepen your practice whatever your level or experience. The most common yoga props are:

  • Blankets
  • Blocks
  • Bolsters
  • Straps

When looking for props you should consider a few different factors. Consider your personal needs, especially in regards to the type of yoga you practice. There is also the physical aspects of the props like size, material, texture and thickness. In this article we’ll cover what to look for in choosing yoga blankets, blocks, bolsters and straps.

Eco Friendly Yoga Blankets

Probably the most versatile yoga prop as they can be used in a multitude of different ways. You can use a blanket to improve your alignment or provide extra support in many poses. It also will provide warmth when you are resting in a pose for a longer period of time. Finally it will provide extra cushioning for hands, knees or other bony parts of the body.

Yoga Blankets for Alignment

The advantage of using a blanket to improve your alignment is that it can be folded into different shapes. This allows you to make small adjustments for almost any pose you are practising. I have very tight hips and seating crossed legs is never that comfortable. Sitting atop a folded blanket encourages my spine to stay tall and stops me from slouching. When doing a seated forward bend sit on the edge of the folded blanket to elevate your hips. 

A rolled up blanket can be used to eliminate any space between your body and the floor. Place it under your heels when you are downward facing dog to get a better connection with the ground. It can also be used as a small bolster to open the chest or to support your knees or neck in Savasana.

Yoga Blankets for Support

If you have sensitive knees and joints a blanket is a very useful aid. It provides an excellent buffer when you are kneeling on a hard floor for poses like camel or crescent moon. Use a folded blanket to also protect your wrists especially if you find doing cat-cow or planks uncomfortable.

Blankets for Restorative Yoga

A good quality yoga blanket is most important in restorative or yin yoga. They can be used to modify poses providing extra support. You can also use it to keep warm. Both of these factors will allow you to stay in poses for longer. 

If you have tight hamstrings or lower back pain, try using rolled up blankets under your ankles, knees and neck. See how much more they soften and relax to the ground. In Child’s pose rest your forehead on a rolled blanket and have the teacher place one on your lower back. Enjoy the extra relaxation and sensation as your back and head melt toward the floor.

Recommended eco friendly yoga blankets

Yoga Blanket

Dimensions

Best Feature


Manduka Cotton blanket

3.5 lbs; 65" x 83"

Highest quality Peruvian cotton blend

Hugger Mugger Recycled Plaid Blanket

4.2 lbs; 70'' x 75''

Long lasting and durable

Halfmoon India Cotton Blanket

60" x 80"

Provides gentle cushioning support and warmth

Manduka Recycled Wool Blanket

3.5 lbs; 82'' x 60'''

Overlocked edge stitching to prevent fraying

Selection Criteria

As you can see a blanket is a valuable yoga prop. If you are going to buy a new one for yoga, don’t buy a cheap one! A cheap blanket will more than likely come from a dodgy sweatshop, so not eco friendly or sustainable. It will be low quality and not providing much support or warmth. A cheap blanket won’t last long and has a high chance of unravelling and snagging. Give the most consideration to the material, style and size of your blanket.

Cotton Yoga Blanket Material

If you want a natural feeling blanket then cotton is your best material. Although they feel soft their fabric is very durable. Cotton production is safer for the environment than other synthetics production. Organic cotton is the most eco friendly yoga cotton blanket. 

They have excellent versatility, provide great warmth and are easy to fold and roll. If you have any allergies to fabrics, cotton is also your best option. These blankets are quite thin so they won’t take up much space. Furthermore you should follow the washing instructions as they can shrink if they are washed in a too high temperature.

Wool Yoga Blanket 

These blankets are thicker and dense so provide the most warmth. It is more sustainable than cotton as it doesn’t require as much land and water to produce. Most of them are made from recycled wool and many are a blend of wool and polyester. Their density makes them a good alternative when a bolster is required. It is not uncommon for wool products to experience pilling so it is important you wash your blanket in cold water and don’t ever tumble dry.

Blends Yoga Blanket 

The highest quality blends are made from recycled materials containing acrylic, cotton and polyester. Generally the most affordable, they are also extremely durable and don’t fade after many washes. The most popular blended blankets are the traditional Mexican style and are available in a wide range of colors and thickness. Plush or brushed blankets are the thickest available and consequently weight up to 5 lbs. You should cold machine wash and hang dry these blankets.

Yoga Blanket Styles

There are 3 main styles of yoga blankets. The most popular and well known is the handmade Mexican Blanket. They are usually imported straight from Mexico. Manufactured from a blend of recycled materials featuring different colours and indigenous Mexican patterns. Mexican Blankets are often referred to as Falsa blanket, Serape, or Saltillo blanket.

Eco Friendly Yoga_yoga blanket

Indian yoga blankets are made from cotton. They are lighter than Mexican yoga blankets and the knit is tighter.

Felted blankets are manufactured from wool so they are quite dense and thick. These blankets are durable and tough so you get value for money even if they are the most expensive. They provide more cushioning than blends and cotton but offer less support. The best style to keep you warm in your restorative yoga class.

Yoga Blanket Size

The range of sizes for yoga blankets is extensive. Ideally you want it to be long enough to cover your whole body in Savasana. A larger blanket provides more versatility and you can make more shapes when folding or rolling it.

Eco Friendly Yoga Blocks

To perform many yoga poses correctly, you need to have a strong connection with the ground. Blocks provide excellent assistance in “bringing the ground up to you” in poses requiring flexibility and strength. If your arm can’t make contact with the ground in a pose, grab a yoga block. For the inflexible yogi it is an invaluable tool.

I use blocks for many of the most popular yoga poses. Establish a rule that whenever your hands are unable to touch the ground, use a yoga block. They will provide more stability and comfort allowing you to go deeper into the pose. Finally having two or more blocks will enhance your practice considerably. You will be able to do a whole lot more poses while placing your hands on two blocks.

When to use a Yoga Block

If you have tight hamstrings, reaching the ground is more difficult. In a simple standing forward fold, place a block directly in front of your feet. Now when you rest your hands on the block you reduce the stress on the hamstrings and back. 

For a pose like Triangle where you need to keep your alignment linear a block is very useful. If you can’t establish good contact with the ground or your shin, place the block by your foot and rest your hand on it. The block will prevent you from hunching over, give your more stability and maintain correct alignment. 

Balancing poses are very challenging so any additional support is welcomed! A block will shorten the distance between your hand and the ground. In Half moon pose, rest your bottom hand on the block. Using the block aids your balance, increases your safety and strengthens your ankles, core and legs.

Blocks for Restorative Yoga

I also find a block a valuable aid in restorative yoga. In fish pose you can place a block between your shoulder blades. It really helps your whole body to relax. Staying in pigeon pose for a significant amount of time is difficult if you have tight hips. Using a yoga block underneath the hips of your bent leg takes the pressure off of your knee. It also makes the stretch much milder than if it were practiced on the ground.

Recommended eco friendly Yoga Blocks

Yoga Block

Dimensions

Best Feature


Jade Cork Block

SM: 9"W x 4.75"H x 3"D

LG: 9"W x 6"H x 4"D

Naturally antimicrobial and water-resistant

Gaiam Cork Brick

9"W x 5.5"H x 3"D

Textured surface provides traction

Manduka Cork Yoga Block

9"W x 6"H x 4"D

Weighs less than coarse-grain cork commonly used for blocks

Yoloha Cork Yoga Block set

9"W x 5.5"H x 3.5"D

Rounded edges add comfort and ease in gripping

Selection Criteria

Yoga blocks are simple devices and they all look pretty similar. There are some subtle differences in material and size. These will have an impact on the blocks durability, functionality, and weight.

Wood Yoga Blocks 

The most durable and sustainable option, they practically last forever! Consequently they are the heaviest and most pricey. Being firm and sturdy they provide great support for arm balances and strength poses. They don’t have much give so not comfortable to rest on in restorative yoga and backbends. Wood blocks have a great look and are easy to clean.

Eco Friendly Yoga_wood yoga block

Foam Yoga Blocks 

These are the ones beginners usually start with. They are very popular in yoga studios as they are the most budget friendly. They are light, soft and very portable. The best ones are the more dense ones as the more flimsy ones won’t provide you with much support. I would not recommend them as they are the least eco-friendly yoga blocks although you can find ones manufactured from recycled materials.

Cork Yoga Blocks 

Cork blocks are an excellent alternative to wood and foam blocks. Made from a natural and eco-friendly material they are durable and sturdy. They are more comfortable to grip than wood thanks to their flaky texture. The porous surface does make them hard to clean so if you sweat a lot they may deteriorate quicker. Low quality cork blocks will crumble on the corners and lose their integrity.

Yoga Blocks Size

There are three different yoga blocks sizes:

  • Wider than traditional blocks: 9″ x 6″ x 4:
  • Average yoga block size: 9″ x 6″ x 3: 
  • Thinner than average yoga blocks: 9″ x 6″ x 2

The 3 different heights allow you to adjust settings based on your flexibility. You will usually use the tallest height for standing poses while the shorter heights provide support when seated or lying down.

Eco Friendly Yoga Bolster

This is another versatile yoga prop which can serve multiple purposes in your practice. A cylindrical cushion or pillow that can provide comfort, support poses and increase stretching. Predominately used in restorative and yoga practice, your bolster can be placed under various parts of your body. It provides a firm yet comfortable support to encourage total release and relaxation. If you are working or recovering from an injury or condition a bolster will help you in so many poses.

When to use a Yoga Bolster

Using a bolster can really help you expand and open your body. When in Savasana, lie on top of the bolster and align it with your spine. As you relax your body will open and release tension, enhancing the experience. Additionally a bolster can aid your alignment in a pose like Pigeon. Placing a bolster directly in front of your body allows you to rest your torso. Doing this allows your hips to remain open while lessening any pressure on tension on your back. 

If you experience any lower back tension, using a bolster can really help. Position it at the top of your hips when you are bridge pose. Lift your hips and let them completely rest on the bolster.

Recommended Eco Friendly Yoga Bolsters

Yoga Block

Dimensions

Best Feature


Manduka Enlight™ rectangular bolster

2.5 lbs; 28" x 11.75" x 5"

Hidden zipper construction for a smooth, seamless finish.

Stretch now - Organic Cotton Yoga Bolster

8.8 lbs; 28" x 9"

It has a carry handle at each end

Barefoot Yoga Rectangular Bolster

6 lbs; 24" x 11" x 7"

Removable, washable, zippered cover

Manduka Lean Bolster

1 lb; 29" x 7" x 3.25"

Convenient, sturdy and easy-carry handle 

Selection Criteria

An essential element of a yoga bolster is it’s firmness. You don’t want it to sag when it is propped up at an angle. If it does that it will not provide the support you are looking for. Another thing you should consider is the edges of the bolster and the position and quality of the zip. These are areas of the bolster which can cause discomfort when you are pressing into the bolster.

Bolsters come in a variety of shapes, sizes and weights all serving different purposes. There are four main types of yoga bolsters; Pranayama, Round, Standard, Zafu. Round and standard are the most common you would use for restorative and yin yoga. The Zafu is a type of meditation cushion and Pranayama is used for Pranayamic breathing exercises.

The material used in manufacturing bolster is usually cotton or cotton blend and the filling is usually buckwheat, cotton or wool. All these materials score high on the eco friendly scale so you can purchase confidently knowing you are being kind to the planet.

Eco Friendly Yoga Straps

Investing in a good yoga strap is something you won’t regret. When I started doing yoga I had a common tendency to reach and over extend in many poses. An example of this would be grabbing my toes in a seated forward fold. This results in poor alignment and form. 

Straps are lifesavers for people with tight hamstrings and shoulders. If you’re stiff or new to yoga, a strap can help you safely achieve poses that were previously inaccessible. Just remember to listen to your body and not force your way into postures.

Benefits of using a yoga strap

  • Improves flexibility
  • Helps lengthen & extend
  • Helps support and stabilise
  • Increases balance & strength in balancing postures (arm balances + inversions)
  • Brings the body to you – literally

Using a strap in arm and upper body stretches is a powerful way to open your shoulders. It allows you to keep the movement comfortable and gradually increases your flexibility. If you lack the range of motion in your shoulders, using a strap will stop you collapsing through your chest.

In seated poses your strap will increase the stretch in your hamstrings without negatively impacting your alignment or form. In Reclined Big Toe pose using a strap gives your arms extra length and stops your back from rounding and your leg to bend.

Recommended Eco Friendly Yoga Strap

Yoga Strap

Dimensions

Best Feature


Jade Yoga Strap

8'

Heavy duty soft cotton with heavy duty white nickle D ring

Manduka Align Yoga Strap

8' or 10'

Made from strong, durable, unbleached cotton webbing 

Yoloha Natural Sling and Mat Strap

6'

Quick and easy to slip on and fits any size mat.

Stretch now Organic Cotton Yoga Strap

10'

Unique easy-release buckle holds strap securely in place.

Selection Criteria

There is a temptation to make do with an alternative like a belt, necktie, robe tie or a towel. These may suffice as a substitute but a yoga strap offers a lot more flexibility. A yoga strap has a loop or buckle that allows you to make adjustments easily and help you track your progression.

Strap Length

Straps come in three lengths: 6, 8 and 10 feet. If you’re tall a 10 feet yoga strap will offer your more “room” to experiment. However having a strap with extra length can be annoying if you have to wrestle with extra strap fabric while practising.

Strap Material

They are usually manufactured from cotton, organic cotton, hemp, nylon, or stretchable rubber-like material. A cotton strap provides a good grip, is durable and allows for easy cleaning. If you have sensitive skin, organic cotton is a good option. Hemp is similar to cotton and the most eco-friendly option available. Stretchable rubber like straps provide more give and are very helpful when performing arm balances and inversion poses. 

Strap Loops

A strap with a buckle will give you the most options. The buckle is either metal or plastic and you can easily create a loop for your strap. The loop allows you to easily adjust your strap for the pose you are performing and your flexibility. Plastic buckles are lightweight and make less noise but metal ones are more durable.

A yoga strap with a loop allows for easier transition between poses and is great for tracking your progress. Also a strap with a sliding loop design can also be used as a yoga mat carrier.

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