At the start of your yoga class, your instructor will usually point toward a stack of blankets and let everyone know that they can grab one if they wish. If you're relatively new to yoga, you might not understand how you can use this simple accessory to your advantage — and this may compel you not to take one. It's important, however, to grab a blanket and place it beside your mat. When you know about the many ways that you can use a blanket during yoga, you may find yourself incorporating it into your practice one or more times. Here are three common ways to use a blanket.

Supporting a Body Part

People who practice yoga often reach for different accessories to help support their various body parts. While foam blocks and pillows are popular, so are blankets. You may find that you need some support during certain poses. For example, when you're lying on your back, you might find that some support beneath your knees makes your back feel more comfortable. When you have a blanket within reach, it's easy for you to quickly roll or fold it and slide it into position. There are lots of additional ways to use a rolled or folded blanket for support, and many instructors will share suggestions as the class unfolds.

Adding More Cushioning Beneath You

Yoga mats are available in different thicknesses, and heavier people will often favor thicker mats because of the extra padding that they provide. If you don't have a thick mat and you find that you want more cushioning as you perform certain poses, it's easy to use your blanket to help. You can simply lay your blanket over your mat to create a softer surface beneath your body. If desired, you can alternatively place the blanket beneath the mat so that you can still make use of the mat's non-slip surface.

Warming Your Body

Many yoga classes end with a relaxing pose known as Shavasana. This simple pose involves lying on your back for a period of a few minutes. People often feel cool during Shavasana even though it's important to be comfortable during this pose. When you have a blanket within reach, you can use it to cover some or all of your body as you settle into this pose. If your body is hot and you don't need a blanket, consider folding it and placing it beneath your head to serve as a pillow.

For more tips on using blankets, straps, blocks, or other tools, contact local yoga studios.