Yoga is considered one of the most rewarding physical exercises in the world. It focuses on healing the body and mind while creating harmony between them. The best part of it is that everyone can practice it, even people with physical limitations. And while, in most cases, having a mat and the will to do it is enough, you can bring your experience to the next level with the help of a few accessories. The most popular and useful one is certainly the yoga bolster.
What is a Yoga Bolster?
A yoga bolster is a kind of pillow that yoga practitioners use to provide comfort, support their poses and increase stretching during deep breathing exercises and restorative poses. Most frequently used in restorative yoga classes, a yoga bolster can be placed under various parts of the body to provide support and increase relaxation. The bolster can be particularly helpful for beginners and those with limited mobility as it provides additional support for every posture.
How a Yoga Bolster Can Improve Your Yoga Practice?
Complicated poses can be tricky to perform and sometimes even painful. A pillow yoga helps to ease the pain by helping the body to get in the right alignment. For example, when placed under the hips, the pillow helps keep your spine correctly aligned. Not only will this help prevent excess tension and injuries from occurring, but it will also ensure you reap the maximum benefits from each pose. A yoga bolster can be especially beneficial in restorative postures. When a pillow is used as support, it stimulates the nervous system to relieve stress on a deeper level. This will allow you to truly relax while still keeping your body supported.
How to Choose the Right Yoga Bolster?
While yoga bolsters generally are very similar, there are some differences that can determine the level of comfort they will provide you with.
Round Yoga Bolsters – Considered the most traditional type of pillow yoga, these bolsters are long, firm, narrow and cylindrical. Often used by more advanced users, round bolsters can provide different benefits to your body. For example, when placed under the back, they lift the spine higher and have the sides, arms and shoulders hang down. Some yogis feel more comfortable when they have a round bolster placed under their knees in reclined postures, such as the Savasana (https://www.bodymindlife.com/blog/yoga/how-to-do-savasana). Round yoga bolsters can also be used for seated poses.
Rectangular Yoga Bolsters – These are wide, flat and very versatile. When positioned underneath the back, they will provide support for most of it. When placed flat, they will raise your body at a gentle angle, and when placed on the edge, they will provide a more profound elevation. Due to their rectangular shape, you can also sit on these bolsters when performing the seated poses and the seated forward bends. Rectangular boosters can also provide solid support when meditating.
When choosing the best bolster for your needs, it’s important to check if it’s firm and dense enough to provide you with enough stability and support. Yet, at the same time, it should be soft enough for you to stay comfortable. Simply said, it needs to feel like a really nice stuffed pillow and it should be able to keep its shape after you’ve laid or sat on top of it. If possible, visit a local yoga studio and touch and squeeze a few bolsters to get an idea of what best suits you.
Nowadays, bolster manufacturers are looking to combine practically with sustainability. They want to ensure that their products are as environmentally friendly as possible while providing users with sufficient support and stability. They also put great effort into making bolsters that are lightweight and easy to take care of. In order to achieve that, bolster covers are usually made of durable natural fabrics, such as cotton or hemp, and contain cotton, polyester or foam filling. While polyester and foam aren’t the most natural materials, they are very lightweight and help the bolster to keep its shape. Some bolsters have removable covers that can be machine washed, while others will need to be spot or dry cleaned.
Bolsters come in a variety of solid colours, different prints, and patterns. This means that you’re very likely to find something that matches your personality, needs, preferences, mat, etc. Keep in mind that lighter colours will stain and get dirty easier. So, you may have a harder time cleaning a pillow that has a cover that is not removable. Large bolsters tend to have one or two handles. This can come in very handy if you’d like to take your bolster with you to your yoga class.
How to Make Your Own Yoga Bolster
Although yoga bolsters aren’t very expensive (around $50), they might not be affordable for everyone. However, nothing should stop you from experiencing the joy of practicing yoga with a yoga cushion. If you really can’t afford to buy one or are a hardcore DIY enthusiast, here’s how to make your own from scratch. All you need are 4-6 safety pins, an old blanket, a pillowcase and an elastic band.
- Fold and roll up your old blanket as you do with your yoga mat;
- Put the pillowcase on the rolled-up blanket just as you would on a pillow;
- Use the safety pins to hold the pillowcase in place down the sides to snugly fit the blanket;
- Tie the end of the pillowcase with an elastic band.