Yoga How To: Using a Bolster
7 Ways to Use a Bolster in Your Yoga Routine
To enhance the posture and truly reap the benefits of yoga, try adding a bolster! A yoga bolster is like a body pillow, but firmer and either rectangular or circular in shape. Its main purpose is to create relaxation, help soften a posture, or aid in opening the body. When added to your yoga routine, the overall experience will become deeper and clearer, resulting in each pose making a little more sense. In other words, why wouldn’t you want to try it out?
Check out the poses below to see how you can easily incorporate a bolster into your at-home yoga routine.
1. Final Resting Posture
Place the bolster directly under your knees and let the legs and feet float freely. Take a deep breath and exhale everything out of the body. Let all the muscles relax. Imagine they are melting down into the ground. Let all thoughts come and go, not holding or grasping onto them. Stay and enjoy for 5 – 10 minutes.
2. Supported Backbend
Place bolster vertically behind you, lining the short end directly with the low back. Be sure to snug the bolster as close to the body as possible, then slowly lie back over it. If the body is too tall, place a block or pillow at the end to support the head. Keep length in the back of the neck by slightly tucking the chin. Let arms drape out to the side, opening palms up to the sky, and relaxing shoulders down. Legs can be straight out or as shown above. Stay and relax for 3 – 5 minutes.
3. Supported Forward Fold
Stretch both legs out in front of the body and place the bolster directly on top of the legs. Root down through the sitting bones while lengthening the trunk of the body to the sky. Inhale the arms overhead and then exhale to lay the chest onto the bolster. Keep flexion in the feet allowing the legs to stay active. Find a comfortable place to rest the head – forehead or side of the face. Gently close the eyes and relax for 3 -5 minutes.
4. Wide-Seated Forward Bend
Stretch both legs out as wide as the body is comfortable. Make sure the body is being challenged but not overstretched. Root down through the sitting bones, feeling the connection between body and the earth. Keep flexion in the feet and the quads active, this is to protect the hamstrings. Place the bolster in front of the pubic bone, lining up with the trunk of the body. Inhale to lengthen up and exhale to fold over the bolster. Continue to send the sitting bones down into the earth while keeping the legs active. Gently close the eyes and relax into the supported stretch for 3 – 5 minutes.
5. Easy Pose
Find a comfortable cross-legged position on top of the bolster – ankles stacked in front of one another, half lotus, or full lotus position. Rest the knees on the ground, letting the pelvis tilt forward which allows the spine to naturally lengthen. Gently engage the core to support the low back. Roll the shoulders onto the back and bring hands to a comfortable position. Relax and settle into the stillness, recognizing and releasing all thoughts that float through the mind. Stay for 3 – 5 minutes.
6. Supported Camel Pose
Place the bolster against a wall in a vertical position. Place a blanket or yoga mat underneath the bolster for the knees to rest on. Bring the body directly up to the bolster, feeling the connection between pubic bone and the prop. As you lengthen the chest towards the sky, continue to push the hips and thighs into the bolster, keeping a constant connection between them. If comfortable, let the head relax back and breathe into the entire body. Stay for 5 inhalations and exhalations. Slowly come out of the posture and take child’s pose with knees together – letting the low back release.
7. Supported King Pigeon
Place the bolster vertically against a wall. Again placing a blanket or yoga underneath for extra cushion. Come into pigeon posture with the back leg bent up against the bolster – see the picture above. If this posture is completely new to you, please do the following: Bring blocks to either side of you and press hands firmly into them as you extend the chest up and open. If the front hip can rest on the ground, start to reach for the back foot. Once you reach your edge in the posture, breath for 5 deep breaths. Slowly come out of the posture and take child’s pose with knees together, releasing the low back.
All photography courtesy of The Journey Junkie.