About a year after I got my first yoga mat in 1998, I invested in other Iyengar props (including blankets, blocks, and strap). I purchased them from San Francisco’s Yoga Props (buy local!), and I still use those props at home.
Today I bought a bunch of new props (more blankets, blocks, and straps, plus those Canadian chip foam blocks and two 10-pound sandbags) from Vancouver’s Halfmoon (buy local!). I bought them to use at my first workshop with Gabriella Giubilaro, a big favorite among Iyengar practitioners at the Yoga Space.
We local students are required to bring our own props (there won’t be enough for the almost-60 students registered). I decided that I want different sets of props for “inside” and “outside” my home (like wearing different shoes indoors and outdoors).
While I love Halfmoon’s local production (when possible), I was disappointed with the blanket selection. Due to their wool-blanket supplier’s price hike, they currently carry only thinner cotton ones.
Iyengar yogis have strong personal preferences about props. Here are my picks (focusing on type, not on brand):
- BLANKETS Despite the slight scratchiness, I prefer wool to cotton for the thickness and density (I like weightiness). My favorite (which I should have tracked down in advance): heavy military wool blankets.
- BLOCKS I prefer solid wood, but they must be commissioned. So my second choice are cork blocks (dense and skid-proof) or hollow wood blocks (light and hardy).
- STRAPS I “grew up” on 1.5-inch belts with snap buckles, but I now prefer the minimalist one-inch traditional belts with metal sliding buckles. As for length, I’ve learned from experience that an eight-foot strap is superior to the six-foot.
- CHIP FOAM BLOCKS Who the heck invented these nifty thingamajigs? They’re ideal for teaching sitting poses (most, if not all, beginners cannot keep a straight spine while sitting unsupported, and this two-inch prop is a quick fix). (Halfmoon’s are made in Canada with recycled foam.)
- MATS I was tempted to try Halfmoon’s rubber mat (which is apparently similar to the Jade mat) but I opted to continue using my family of pebble-grained PVC mats (made in Germany, I believe) till the end of their lives. The other mat enticing me is the Manduka ProLite, although it’s not biodegradable. But, considering my current mats’ probable lifespans, I won’t experience any “premium” mat for a decade or more!
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