Yoga is about relaxing and moving to new levels of consciousness. It’s about improving your health and fitness level. And it’s about gaining more flexibility. Sometimes, your body is stuck when you try to achieve postures. Certain areas of your body may get tight, preventing you from progressing deeper into poses and boosting your yoga practice. But tools can help. They’re not a way of “cheating” – instead, they ease your body into the right position so you’re able to move the way you need to.
A bolster is one tool to boost your yoga practice. Bolsters, which are long, slightly firm rectangular or cylindrical pillows, help you move the right way and slowly push your body deeper into poses, leading you further into a place of health, peace and enlightenment. These tools offer modifications to poses, and allow you to truly relax in restorative poses.
Use bolsters in these ways to deepen your yoga practice:
Ease Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain is common, yet a bolster could help.
In a restorative version of Bridge pose, place the bolster beneath the top of your hips when you lift your hips into the pose. Allow your hips to sink into the bolster and your body to completely relax. Try this rejuvenating position for up to five minutes. It can ease your pain to give you real relief.
You could also perform the Legs-Up-the-Wall pose with a bolster underneath your lower back.
Open Your Hips
The hips are often tight, but a bolster provides support to make poses achievable with tight hips and for opening hips. For instance, when you bend forward in Child’s pose, rest your upper body onto a bolster with your head to one side, switching your head position partway through.
Another option is to perform Reclined Bound Angle Pose, which involves lying back with your feet together and your bent legs open, with bolsters under the side of each knee. This provides support to gently open your hips. If it makes you more comfortable, add another bolster under your back and head.
Improve Flexibility in Forward Bends
In a seated forward bend, sit on the bolster to get into a better position for tipping your upper body forward. An alternative is to sit on the floor and fold your upper body over the bolster. This way, you don’t have to go all the way to the floor and can get a more relaxing pose that gently improves your flexibility.
In a standing forward bend, you could reach for the bolster instead of bringing your fingers all the way to the floor. This allows you to have improved posture for the bend, while improving tightness in your legs and hips.
Open Your Chest and Shoulders
Place the bolster on the floor vertically in relation to your body. With the back of your hips against the bolster, lie down into a supported Fish pose so your back goes along the length of the bolster. If it’s more comfortable for you, you could prop up the bolster with pillows or blocks so your upper body is in a more upright position.
Let your arms fall to the sides of the bolster, and allow it to open your heart and body. Rest in this position while relaxing your mind for the length of time that restores you.
These ideas give you a few ways to use a bolster, but try to find additional ways to modify yoga poses by placing bolsters as body supports. You'll find that bolsters help open your body, improve your stretches and enhance your mind/body/spirit experience overall.