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Ways to Use a Bolster for More Comfort in Your Yoga Practice

Bolsters provide support to enjoy a deep stretch and more relaxation during yoga.



When I plan or attend a yoga class that uses bolsters, my body often softens in response. My nervous system becomes a little less nervous — it’s like I can feel the tension I’ve been carrying start to release.


Although it’s hard to imagine a time before I used bolsters, I didn’t start practicing with them initially. When I first began attending yoga classes, I was introduced to a fast-paced vinyasa style. And while vigorous yoga can be a great way to build strength and discipline, I learned quickly that it was just as important for my body to slow down and rest, and bolsters help me do just that.


What are yoga bolsters?

Yoga bolsters are supportive pillows that come in different shapes, sizes and materials. They are a bit bigger and bulkier than other props, which can make them harder to tote around. However, many yoga studios offer bolsters and they also make a great addition to your home practice. If you don’t have a bolster, you can use a long pillow.


Who can use yoga bolsters?

Yoga bolsters can be used by anyone — regardless of experience level — to find more space and comfort. They can be particularly helpful while doing yin or restorative yoga. They can also provide more cushion if you are experiencing joint pain (for example in the hips, lower back or knees). Additionally, they can be a great prop during pregnancy, especially in savasana. I often use a bolster during meditation or when I hold poses for longer periods of time to get a deeper release.


What are the benefits of using a yoga bolster?

  • Provides support for the body to relax

  • Elevates the ground to make poses more accessible

  • Offers a deeper backbend to open the heart

  • Allows for more cushion for sensitive joints


What are ways to use a yoga bolster?

  • Sit or lay on a bolster to find more support

    • Place a bolster in between your legs in hero’s pose (virasana)

    • Lay your belly on a bolster in child’s pose (balasana)

    • Rest your arms and forehead on a bolster in puppy pose (uttana shishosana)

    • Use a bolster under your sitting bone in pigeon pose (ardha kapotasana)

    • Put a bolster in between your legs during supine twist pose (supta matsyendrasana)

    • Bring a bolster underneath your knees in corpse pose (savasana)

  • Prop a bolster up to elevate the ground

    • Place a bolster on top of your legs and rest your belly on the bolster in a seated forward fold (pashchimottanasana). You can also take a wide legged forward fold (upavistha konasana) and lean a bolster on the ground, resting your forehead on the other end of the bolster

    • Use two blocks to create a supportive slope for the bolster to lean on. Then lay back on the bolster in reclined bound angle pose (supta baddha konasana)

    • Put two blocks next to each other at the same height. Then place a bolster on top of the blocks. Rest your legs on top in stonehenge pose

  • Lay across a bolster for a deeper backbend

    • Slide a bolster underneath your sacrum in bridge pose (setu bandha sarvangasana)

    • Lay your lower back on a bolster in legs up the wall pose (viparita karani)

  • Slide a bolster under your joints for more padding

    • Place a bolster underneath your back knee in low lunge pose (anjaneyasana)


Ready to experience the benefits of a bolster for yourself? I filmed a 30-minute yoga class with some of my favorite poses that use a bolster.



How do you feel after incorporating a bolster in your yoga practice? I’d love to hear which poses felt best for you in the comments below. Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for more classes and tutorials with yoga props.


Wishing you comfort and ease,

Shannon

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