Some of you have asked about bolsters and their use so here's a few tips and things to think about if you are buying a bolster.
For other advice regarding equipment see my previous blog post - https://www.energiseyoga.co.uk/post/yoga-equipment-a-little-list-for-santa
What is a yoga bolster?
A yoga bolster is a prop that acts like a big cushion. They are long and circular in shape (see below!)
What are they made of? Bolsters are usually made of buckwheat. Some have smells such as lavender. Most have removable covers which can be washed or changed. Other bolsters are made from
a polyster fibre. Some bolsters are made from spelk husk - this is a filling that is lighter than buckwheat so sometimes used.
What size should I get?
Bolsers come in 3 different sizes- rectangular, cylindrical and lean. All vary slightly in width and shape. The most commonly used style in yoga studios and classes is the cylindrical (like a rolled up towel shape!) The common dimensions for this would be 63cm x 23cm diameter.
What are bolsters used for? Bolsters are used to support your body (both upper and lower) in classes such as Yin or restorative yoga. This is because we hold poses for longer periods (usually 3-5 minutes in my classes but can be longer!) to ensure we have optimum comfort. They also pad/cushion the joints and help us keep the shape in the pose. What can I use if I don't have a bolster? If you don't have a bolster you can use a larger sofa cushion, a rolled up thick towel or a foam roller with a towel over it. Suggestions and price of bolsters
Most bolsters (cylindrical style) are between £30-£40. Buckwheat bolsters are usually cheaper than the spelt husk bolsters. Here are a few recommendations from me and other yogis who have brought bolsters recently -Yoga matters (resonable in pricing - other students have used this)
-Eckotech yoga (bit more expensive but manufactured/sourced in UK to reduce carbon footprint)
-Yoga studio store (Had mine for 3 years and it's still going strong from here!)
Poses with the bolser
Here are some ways we use the bolster in yin and restorative yoga. As with all yoga do consult your yoga teacher or health care professional if you are unsure. Ensure you listen to your body and move within what is comfortable for you. Having a yoga mat, other props like eye bags and blocks all aid the following postures as well as using the bolster.
Child's pose with bolster
-Options to hug onto bolsters with hands underneath- use blocks at the end of bolster to elevate -Option to have bolster under forehead Benefits: Stretches into external rotation of the hips, stimulates the vagus nerve to calm down our nervous system, helps promote relaxation and grounding
Great pose for 3-5 minutes when stressed!
-Used in Yin and restorative yoga
Supported legs up the wall - variations
Bolster under hips with legs up on wall
-Option to have knees bent (on sofa/chair)
-Option to have legs stretched in 'V' shape on wall
-Option to have legs in butterfly position here
Benefits: Allows the pelvis and lower back to relax, used at the end of practice to stretch back of legs. Used in Yin and restorative yoga
Caution: Any blood pressure issues/cardiovascular conditions, glaucoma, pregnancy
-Be mindful to get in and out of this carefully - slowly placing the feet to the floor and rolling onto the side before coming up is advised. Click here some more variations
Caterpillar pose with bolster:
-Option to have bolster/block ontop to allow a deeper stretch (Yin posture)
-Option to have bolster under knees to take stretch away from hamstrings (more Restorative posture)
-Draw toes up to the sky for a deeper stretch, soften toes to take stretch away
Benefits: Encourages length and stretch into muscles at the back of legs -(hamstrings, calf)
-Precautions: Pregnancy, lower back/neck issues, sciatica
Click here for some more variations