What is blanket yoga and how could it help boost wellbeing?

The next big trend in yoga looks set to be blanket yoga, which offers an even more restorative and relaxing practice. ― AFP pic
The next big trend in yoga looks set to be blanket yoga, which offers an even more restorative and relaxing practice. ― AFP pic

NEW YORK, Feb 24 ― Many of us have experienced that feeling of wanting to crawl back under the duvet when life gets too stressful, and now a style of yoga is encouraging us to do just that. Blanket yoga could help make your class even more relaxing by using weighted blankets during poses.

Also known as Kambal YogaTM, blanket yoga, spotted by Well + Good, was created by certified restorative yoga teacher Stephanie O'Hanlon Kayalar and uses weighted blankets to bring a deeper state of relaxation and further reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Blankets are already a versatile tool in a yogi's kit, and can be used to make seated positions more comfortable, as a pillow during relaxation, or to stay warm during savasana.

However, weighted blankets are different, with pellets used to create blankets that weigh between 2 lbs to 30 lbs to suit each individual, according to their own size.

The extra weight is believed to help aid relaxation thanks to deep pressure touch (DPT), a type of therapy which uses a firm touch to stimulate pressure points on your body, working in the same way as a massage, or similar to swaddling a baby. This DPT helps to boost levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain and calms the nervous system, which is why many credit weighted blankets with improving a range of health concerns, notably anxiety, stress, and insomnia.

With this in mind O'Hanlon Kayalar has incorporated weighted blankets into her classes along with the usual props to help students passively hold poses without any stress to the body, and to enhance feelings of security and relaxation.

To maximize the calming effect of the blankets, she also combines meditative breathing with yoga nidra, which uses the savasana relaxation stage of yoga to practice a guided meditation to allow the body to drift into a more restorative state. Light touch therapy and aromatherapy complete the experience, which O'Hanlon Kayalar says is suitable for all, including those who have never practiced yoga before.

For those who can't make it to O'Hanlon Kayalar's Kambal YogaTM class, which she holds at her Restore Balance studio in Glen Falls, New York, investing in a weighted blanket could be an effective way to reap the benefits at home, either during your own yoga practice or simply for a better night's sleep. ― AFP-Relaxnews

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