I was told early on in my yoga teacher training that there is a "right way" to fold a yoga blanket, but I wasn't told what the right way was. At the time, I used props so rarely in my personal practice that it didn't seem important enough to find out.
However, since I've been practicing and teaching restorative yoga and integrating more restorative postures into my other classes, I've realized that how the yoga blanket is folded does make a difference.
In restorative yoga, we allow the body to rest by supporting it enough that it becomes quiet. There is no sensation of pain or even stretch that demands attention. We hold the poses for three to ten minutes, occasionally more, and as the body becomes more and more quiet, we become more and more sensitive. If there is a lump or strange fold underneath us, it can have a significant impact on the balance and the comfort of a posture.
Also, lumpy blankets don't stack very well for storage, and they look messy. Folding the blankets correctly gives them clean edges and keeps them level.
When you look at the type of blanket that we typically use in yoga, you'll see that there are long threads that run to each end (the "warp"), and other threads are woven between them (the "weft"). The fabric will fold into a more smooth and flat surface if all the longitudinal warp threads are kept in line with each other.
Remember that the blanket is used as a prop, so our focus when folding it should be to promote its function as a smooth, stable and comfortable surface, rather than folding as quickly and easily as possible.
How to fold a yoga blanket:
- Open the blanket entirely and smooth out creases and lumps.
- Fold the blanket in half lengthwise, matching end to end, so that you end up with a long, more narrow rectangle. Smooth out creases the best you can.
- Fold blanket in half horizontally, matching end to end.
- Fold blanket in half horizontally again.
- One more fold in half on the horizontal plane.
- All done!
How to stack blankets:
This is especially useful if you don't have access to bolsters--by folding blankets together, you can create a sturdy stack that works just as well as a bolster. Two blankets stacked together is about half the height of a bolster, so use two sets of two to get full bolster size.
When you stack blankets, you'll fold them over each-other so that the folded sides are in the middle and the fringe is on the outside.