Bolster ˈbōl-st(ə-)r (verb): to support with, to give a boost to . . . And bolsters, a popular yoga prop, are exactly that!
Intended to support and give a boost to your practice; bolsters are widely used in restorative/yin yoga and other yoga styles to support different parts of your body, enhance your asana practice, and help you relax.
Bolsters come in different shapes and sizes; and just like other yoga props; choosing one depends on your personal practice and preferences. Some people prefer a wide rectangular shape to support restorative relaxation; some might use lean prana for deeper openings and cushioning smaller areas of the body like hips in pigeon pose; and others use round bolster filled with buckwheat hulls that mellows into the shape of the body and allows easier transfer from your home to the studio.
Whatever you choose, here are five ways you can use a yoga bolster:
Placing a bolster under your hip not only aligns your asana but also releases the tension in your hip by reducing the distance between your yoga mat and your hip.
A great way to use bolster in a backbend is to place it in line with the shoulders. Extend arms behind the head or extend them close to your body. Add an eye pillow for more relaxation!
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
Upavistha Konasana stretches the lower back and inner and backside of the legs. Place a bolster on the floor in front of you and lay your torso down on the bolster. If your back is tight, place the bolster in a vertical position and rest your head on it.
Ahhh, savasana, the ultimate relaxation pose! Want to relax more? Use your bolster underneath your knees to release the low back or try a reclined savasana.
Fun Fact: Yoga bolsters and other props were popularized by B.K.S Iyengar in the 1960s who used them to make poses more accessible to his students and help them find better alignment.