Props in Yoga – Yoga Bolsters – How to use them and why

The yoga bolster is often something you see around at studios or are maybe offered for savasana but maybe you feel unsure about how to use them or even what they are?

A yoga bolster is a cylindrical cushion which is used to support the body in poses often of a more restorative nature. They vary in filling from hollow fibre softer bolsters to harder recron filled options and more mouldable buckwheat fillings. All of these help to support the body to differing degrees in different settings. They can be used in both seated and reclined postures to enable the body to either stay there for longer or encourage a slightly deeper release.

The bolster is able to give support to the body. For instance when placed under the hips in seated or along the spine in a reclined position which is perfect for those in a tighter body. By raising the seat in seated postures it helps to settle the lower backs and hips if this is an area of particular stiffness.

A yoga bolster is also perfect for letting the body relax into posture more. This can be in a more active posture such as a forward bend where the arms would come to rest onto the bolster or in a supine position such as savasana with the bolster under the knees. By giving the body support and letting it settle into a shape which feels good the mind and muscles can switch off a little more for relaxation.

How can you use a bolster?

So you’ve decided what filling works for you and bought a yoga bolster but what do you do with it now?

restorative baddha konasana
  • Baddha Konasana – For a lot of us baddha konasana with the soles of the feet touching and the knees coming out to the side can be difficult to stay in, it just isn’t comfortable. If this is you pop a bolster under the knees and let the knees fall down onto the bolster. Then work on the forward fold with elbows, forearms or head coming down towards the bolster while the knees are supported
  • Revolved Janu Sirsasana – Bring one leg out wide and the other foot tucked into the groin. Let the bolster rest onto the thigh of extended leg and revolve the chest so that you can begin to lay the waist down onto the bolster. Depending on the openness of your body the side of the head may lay down or you may bend the elbow and let the ear come to rest into the hand. Opposite hand can rest on the hip or extend over head depending on what feels best.
restorative childs pose
  • Childs Pose – Take the knees as wide as you usually do for childs pose and prop the end of your bolster up on a block or some books. Nestle the bolster between your knees and lay the torso down onto the bolster. Let the head turn to one side. Turn the head to the opposite side half way though the time you are holding the posture for
  • Lizard – The yoga bolster is perfect for taking a little of the effort away from this hip opener. When you step the leg forward to your low lunge pop the bolster just behind the heel. This then gives you something to pop the hands, elbows or forehead down onto as you move deeper into lizard pose.
  • Savasana – For me this is the ultimate way to use a bolster, popping it under your knees while laid flat in savasana. The support of the knees helps the lower back release a little bit more meaning you can really let go.

Head on over to the Yogipod Journal for more restorative pose ideas. Have a read of it here

Why would you use a bolster?

So as I’ve touched on above the yoga bolster is the perfect way to support the body and aid relaxation. Whatever the filling it helps to let the supported area of the body relax a little more and in return the breath slow and the mind quieten. When lifting the hips it helps the lower back. When used to bring the floor a little closer it helps support the body in stretches. It is also perfect for practices such as pregnancy yoga or a more injury focused rehabilitation to keep the body from moving into its full range of motion.

My bolster recommendations

  • If you’re after a buckwheat bolster head on over to the bolster section of the Yogipod shop. There are lots of different prints to choose from. As with all buckwheat bolsters the mould to your bodies shape as you use them.
  • For all other bolster types Yoga Matters have a good selection

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