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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Image: Uncle Sam’s Army Navy Outfitters wool blankets; Halfmoon chip foam blocks
I like all of the above, although with a preference for cotton blankets. The wool and wool blend blankets I’ve used seem to be more slippery, so students with problems getting their shoulders in the right place in shoulder stand seem to slide off more.
Lately I’ve become enamored of slant boards, particularly for lying on.
And I couldn’t do without tennis balls. Ball rolling isn’t exactly yoga, but it does open up some otherwise hard to reach spots.
And let’s not forget plastic stools, the $8 version of the setubanda bench, good for so many things.
I’m with you on mats – I’m still using one from five years ago and it shows no signs of wearing out.
Thanks for your honest review of Halfmoon products. We have over two decades of making yoga gear – it’s what we know and love! We feel your pain with the wool blanket situation, and are earnestly sourcing a North American wool supplier. Enjoy your workshop at Yoga Space – it’s a gorgeous studio!
i really love blocks… I have a cork (halfmoon!) and lulu hollow bamboo block… sadly bought prior to my education on eco-yoga.
I use them all the time, as for most postures I have a hard time with, like half moon, triangle even, extended side angle.
i like the cork block since it stays firmly where i put it. However, the hollow wooden block is nice for ease of moving around since it’s so light. 🙂
bolsters! and a chair for shoulder stand, supported plow and for supported forward bends — i bought mine at a general store down the street from me for $9 (:
i can’t live without my bolster! i also love my blankets, which are thick solid mexican blankets.
I just came back to your blog after a long time away – what a treat to find all your new posts!!!
I got so desperate for Iyengar props I started to make them….and now I can’t stop!! I am in Italy and I couldn’t find anything local or upcycled or anything – so I hit the sewing machine and Etsy for supplies and you can see the results here…
all this sewing is eating into my practice time of course…(-: