How to Use a Yoga Bolster: A Quick Guide
So, you've just bought a new yoga bolster to enhance your yoga sessions. But do you know how to use it so your bolster becomes your best yoga friend? Take away the struggle of more challenging yoga poses, to support your hips in frog pose (mandukasana) for example. Not only for yoga poses or asana, props can be used to let stress drain away from your body, mind and spirit, using support and the breath - yes please!
Whether you're a beginner practicing your first balasana (child's pose) or a yoga veteran looking to enhance your bhujangasana (cobra pose) yoga bolsters maximise your safety and comfort by providing added support to your yoga poses.
In this quick guide, we'll explore how to use a yoga bolster.
What exactly is a yoga bolster?
Yoga bolsters are essentially pillows/cushions that provide comfort and support for your body during yoga sessions. They look a bit like foam rollers but are much softer and kinder to your body, letting you into it deeper to come home to yourself.
Bolsters are particularly useful in yoga therapy and yoga classes to aid physical, mental and emotional release. They're also ideal for providing added comfort in pregnancy classes. Beyond this, it's normal to see forward-thinking yoga facilitators using bolsters creatively to modify existing poses and create new possibilities for your yoga sequences.
Different types of yoga bolster
Mini bolsters. Medium bolsters. Large bolsters. Round. Rectangular. Softer. Firmer. Yoga bolsters come in several different variations. For different purposes and different bodies, Yoga United stock a range of different yoga bolsters. From mini yoga bolsters for small adults and children right up to larger bolsters and anything in between.
We prefer bolsters filled with rayon fibre – they are solid but not too heavy, and meet UK fire regulations. We recommend you do some research to find the perfect one for you.
How to use a yoga bolster
Yoga bolsters increase your ability to let go of tension in muscles, joints and the mind whilst minimising the risk of injury and strain. Let's take a look at how they can be used.
1. To aid holding poses- Staying relaxed while holding deep poses is fundamental in yoga. This can be difficult for people with injuries or less flexibility so having a bolster provides the extra support. This is particularly useful for restorative yoga poses and Yin Yoga where long holds are key. For example: supporting the thighs in 'reclining bound angle pose' (supta baddha konasana).
2. To aid inverted poses- Yoga bolsters can help with inversion asanas such as 'Legs-Up-The-Wall' (viparita karani mudra) and ‘down dog’ (adho mukha svanasana). These yoga poses place your heart above your head, a bolster can be used to provide additional support for the inverted head in 'downward facing dog'.
3. To find space in the spine- A yoga bolster cushion positioned lengthwise underneath the spine supine lifts the vertebrae up towards the front body to create space, and when prone, offers support into the spine from the front, aiding more space for bones, joints and discs supporting alignment and preventing compression.
4. To elevate the hips during seated poses- Using a yoga bolster pillow during seated poses helps elevate the hips and gives the hips and knees extra space to open. This is ideal for practicing sitting with your legs crossed, preparation for seated pranayama, and meditation practice.
5. For pregnancy and postnatal classes- Yoga can support women through pregnancy and beyond. But it doesn't need to be difficult. Yoga bolsters can help pregnant women modify existing poses to make them easier on the body, especially the stomach. For example, a side-lying savasana can be performed lying with a yoga bolster for support. By using a bolster, pregnant women can continue to reap the rewards of yoga by making it safe and soft.
6. For restorative poses and yoga nidra- It's important to prop your body as much as you can and be as relaxed as possible, no strong sensation or stretches here. Making a cozy nest can include yoga blankets, yoga socks, a yoga eye pillow, any yoga accessory that will create ease in staying here for some time. Yoga clothing should be loose and comfortable, especially around the waist.
Yoga bolsters make the ideal yoga companion. Whether you use your bolster to ease a slightly painful hip in 'Pigeon pose' (eka pada rajakapotasana) or want to explore new creative possibilities, and let the props support letting go, release of tension, a comforting companion, having a bolster will let you expand your yoga horizons when the body needs some extra help.
Why do yoga when you can do bolster yoga? Take a look at our range of bolsters at Yoga United here. If you need some help in your research, you can call the office to get in touch with our trained restorative yoga teachers and yoga therapists who can help you choose.
Our bolsters are all made in partnership with women in India with love and care. Removable and washable bolster covers mean you can always keep them clean, and if you’re a yoga teacher sharing soft props with students, they stay hygienic and fresh.
**Yoga United stock a wide range of vibrant and stylish yoga accessories and products including yoga clothing, yoga socks, yoga mat bags, and more. Check out our online store to see our full range.