WHY THE BUZZ ABOUT THE BOLSTER?
There are many props that you will find in a yoga studio and that’s part of the reason why we love going to one. They’ve got everything you need. Deciding on what to purchase then for yourself can be tricky.
A yoga bolster can run you anywhere from £30-£80 so making the decision to purchase one doesn’t come lightly. But it’s a prop that I would 100% recommend and feels a bit like luxury when you use it.
A yoga bolster is a thick and firm yoga prop resembling a pillow. It is used for supporting the body in certain poses, it eases the muscle strain and helps to reach a deep state of relaxation. Along with other yoga props, such as yoga straps, yoga blocks, and yoga wheels, the bolster can be widely used in slower and relaxing types of yoga.
Bolsters as they are seen now were first developed and introduced into the yoga practice by B.K.S. Iyengar. These help to make yoga accessible to everyone including people with injuries, older practitioners and those with less flexibility. This is one of the reasons
I LOVE props and bolsters so much. A yoga bolster is a versatile yoga accessory that can be used in a variety of creative ways but my favourite of course is to be used for restorative poses.
I couldn’t think of a better time than right now to work on releasing tension, anxiety and helping with relaxation. We need to make sure that we are taking time for self care and restoration.
WANT TO TRY IT OUT? GET YOUR FREE 30 MINUTE RELAXING BOLSTER CLASS BELOW
1. RELIEVE LOWER BACK PAIN
Hands up if you’re working from home? Hands up if you don’t have a proper desk? Hands up if since the first lockdown you’ve experienced back pain?
Many of us are no strangers to lower back pain and it has become all too common now that so many are working from home. Back pain can be caused by many factors such as slouching, carrying heavy things or standing all day.
When we use a bolster as a support to our yoga practice it stimulates our nervous system. This helps to relieve stress on a much deeper and more impactful way. One of the main benefits of this is easing muscle tension.
The bolster allows you to relax and let go of more tension because you’re supported and therefor you will be able to release more of the tension in the muscles of the back.
A fantastic pose to do with a bolster to open the chest and release back tension is a supported fish pose.
Sit on the mat and place the bolster lengthways behind you, nestled into the back. Start to lower down onto the bolster as it supports the whole spine and the head. You feel the tightness in the chest and shoulders opening and you may feel your abdominals get a stretch too. The bolster will take the tension out of the back and neck, allowing you to receive the benefits of a back bend but in a much more comfortable way.
2. REDUCE STRESS
Have you ever felt your stress and worries melt away after a really good hug or from tucking yourself into bed or wrapping yourself up in a big blanket?
It can sometimes be the physical pressure of touch that helps to calm our nervous system, the support our body physically feels and craves when we are feeling anxious or stressed. Your bolster can be this support and you’ll be surprised the impact using a bolster can make on your mental health and your emotions. It provides additional comfort in poses and allows your muscles to totally release too.
When we use the bolster in a restorative way if you are feeling stressed or tired, spending just a few minutes in a yoga pose can really help you to relax and think clearly. When we are relaxed we stimulate our parasympathetic nervous system which is needed to digest food properly and absorb the nutrients we need from them. Therefore when we use the bolster we also stimulate our metabolism.
Want to know a really simple pose to do for a few minutes that can help to relax you? A Child’s Pose is an excellent example of how a bolster can provide extra support for your torso, making the pose more gentle for your back and more relaxing for your mind.
Place a bolster between the thighs and in front of you to fully rest your body on it, soften, and rest as long as you want. You can spend a few minutes with your cheek on one side and when you feel ready switch to the other.
3. INCREASE FLEXIBILITY
Props are used often for people who struggle with flexibility so that they can get into poses they might find difficult. Using a block or a bolster can allow you to access the benefits of the pose and eventually gain more range of motion. Using the bolster can also prevent injury that might inhibit you from continuing with a stretch or yoga.
Using a bolster in a hamstring stretch like a seated forward fold is a great place to start building flexibility.
Start seated on the floor with both legs extended in front of you. Place the bolster on top of your legs. You may need to prop it up with a few blocks if you’re very tight. Fold forward and allow your forehead to make contact with the bolster. In this supported Forward Fold and resting your body on it will not only help you deepen into the pose but will also help loosen the jaw muscles and even out the breathing.
4. MEDITATION AND BREATHING
Okay, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you DO NOT need to be uncomfortable while meditating. You are already trying to do something that is difficult which is quiet the mind…why make your mind go crazy with trying to fidget and get comfortable too?
We want to be able to focus and concentrate on our breathing, on feeling calm and on letting go, the last thing you want to feel is discomfort in your lower body such as knees, back or hips.
Sitting on the edge of a bolster or straddling the bolster between your legs allows the hips to be higher than the knees which relieves tension in the back, hamstrings and hips. It also allows you to sit upright more easily and hold a straight spine.
If you’re sitting on the edge of the bolster and your knees need support too grab a couple blocks and place them underneath. The bolster again is supporting the body and is particularly helpful if you’re new to meditation or breathing practice. Just because you have limited mobility doesn’t mean you can’t meditate!
It is not uncommon for people to feel pain and discomfort from staying seated for long periods of time. A yoga bolster helps to ease the pain by providing the body with correct alignment throughout.
5. REDUCE INFLAMMATION AND SWELLING
If you suffer with swelling and inflammation you might also suffer with bad blood circulation.
Another benefit of a bolster is that it helps to boost blood flow. When placed lengthways under the spine, chest, or shoulders, the prop encourages the body to open up. This simple process allows the blood to flow freely through the body to supply the organs with fresh, oxygenated blood. This can help reduce inflammation and swelling.
Sometimes if we are sitting or standing for too long (hello lockdown and Schitt’s Creek marathons) your body may become stiff or swollen. Once again using a bolster in practice can help to relieve this. When used in poses, the bolster can combat swelling, stiffness, and inflammation and allow the body to move freely once more.
A restorative inversion is another great posture to help reduce swelling. If you find that you legs or ankles get swollen lay down on your back, pop the bolster under your hips and bum and then send you legs up to the sky. Don’t worry about keeping the legs together here. Let them open and stack over the hips. Close your eyes and let the magic happen!
WANT TO SEE THE IMPACT AND TRY IT OUT?
Want to feel the impacts for yourself? Get your own restorative class below. Feel relaxed, less swollen, more aligned, less stiff and more mobile.