Bolsters are popular yoga props that are widely used in restorative/yin yoga classes. A yoga bolster is a great prop to invest in if you like to practice this style of yoga at home. Bolsters can help you relax better in restorative yoga poses by supporting different parts of the body.
Yoga bolsters come in different sizes, shapes, weight and filling.
Rectangular and round bolsters are the most popular. As with other yoga props, shape and size are a personal preference. Yoga studios are often equipped with bolsters in different shapes and sizes and teachers can suggest you which bolsters are better to use in particular poses.
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For practicing at home, I find one bolster is enough, especially if you are new to this prop. Before buying a bolster, just look at different ways you can use it in your practice so you can make a better decision about the size you need.
If you don’t have a bolster, try using pillows, cushions, and blankets instead, just to see if this is something you would like to get for your home yoga practice.
Here is how you can use yoga bolster in different poses:
1. Supported Child’s Pose
Spread your knees wide, place a bolster between the knees, and rest your upper body and head on the bolster. Arms can stay on the bolster or relaxed on the ground. If you feel like the bolster is too low, you can place blocks or blankets under the bolster until you reach the comfortable height.
Another way to make this pose feel better is to use a rolled blanket or towel under the ankles if you feel too much strain on the top of the feet. And if you can’t comfortably sit back on your heels in child’s pose, try placing a blanket or pillow between your chins and thighs.
2. Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Begin seated on the mat with a bolster behind you. Bring the soles of your feet together and allow the knees to drop open, then rest your back and head on the bolster. Lay your arms on the floor, palms up.
Additionally placing yoga blocks, pillows, or blankets under each thigh can help if you feel the strain on the inner thighs.
A great way to use bolster in a backbend is to place it in line with the shoulders. Arms extended over the head or hands interlaced behind the head to support the neck. You can choose to keep your legs extended on the floor, or bent with knees together or open like in Bound Angle Pose.
For variation in the middle of the room, place a bolster under your sacrum and extend legs up. If you are doing this pose next to the wall, place bolster parallel to the wall leaving a little bit space between bolster and wall. Try to bring your hips as close to the wall as possible as you lay down on your back. Extend the legs and relax arms by your side.
For a restorative version of a seated forward fold, place a bolster on your legs and relax your upper body over the bolster. Experiment with the height by placing pillows or blankets under the bolster to find the most comfortable position.It can also feel good to place a rolled blanket under your knees in this pose.
6. Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Wide-legged forward bend provides a nice stretch for the lower back, inner and backside of the legs. To relax deeper into the pose, place a bolster on the floor in front of you and lay your torso down on the bolster. If you need to bring bolster higher, use blocks, pillows, or blankets.
7. Hero Pose/ Reclined Hero Pose
Hero pose is uncomfortable for many people, so sitting on the bolster can make it easier, especially if you are staying in this pose for a longer time during meditation or pranayama.
For reclined variation of hero pose, you can use a bolster under your back for support. And just like in other poses, you can regulate the height by placing blocks, pillows, or blankets under the bolster.
Begin this pose seated on the floor with bolster next to your hip, turn your upper body towards the bolster and lay your body on the bolster for a gentle supported twist. You can also use a pillow or folded blanket between your knees for more comfort.
9. Reclined Twist
In reclined twist, place a bolster under the bent knee for extra support.
Bolster under the knees relieves tension in the lower back, so it’s great for anyone who experiences lower back issues.
This was just a short list of yoga poses that you can practice with a bolster. There are many more ways to use a yoga bolster, so go ahead and find what feels good for your body.