Yoga props can be used for any level yogi, and they are not just for beginners.
In fact, yoga props are encouraged for yogis to use during their practice because they promote freedom, stability, and support.
You may be an experienced yogi, but some poses may not be easy for you. In these cases, you may need extra support and that is perfectly okay.
Different yoga props can be blocks, wheels, straps, pillows or bolsters and can be used by any level yogi. These props are used to provide support, stability, balance, and freedom during your yoga practice.
Yoga bolsters are one of the best props to use because they come in different shapes, sizes and firmness level to meet the needs of every yogi.
In this article, I will cover how to use a round yoga bolster, but also provide tips for beginners, my favorite yoga bolsters and much more.
What Is a Yoga Bolster Used For?
Have you ever had a long, comfortable body pillow and you just melt into it when you get into bed?
That is comparable to a yoga bolster, but the bolster is not as soft as the body pillow. Bolsters are definitely firmer and come in different shapes and sizes.
Yoga bolsters are used in most if not all yoga studios around the world that host prenatal, restorative or Iyengar yoga classes because they are incredibly useful props. Bolsters are also encouraged to be used during at-home yoga practices as well.
Your next thought after finding out where to find bolsters may be what exactly are bolsters used for?
Bolsters are used to support yogis in different poses, which may be modified, which is perfectly fine. Here are seven ways that a bolster can be used in yoga class, whether in a studio or at home.
How to Use a Round Yoga Bolster for Beginners
Savasana – Final Resting Posture
Savasana is quite possibly one of the best and most popular yoga poses. Our bodies and minds are constantly going and never resting, which is not always the best for us.
There are times we need to just stop and rest, this pose definitely forces that rest. This pose is where you become one with your body.
For some, even having the yoga mat as support on the floor, this pose can be challenging because they need a softer support underneath them. Yoga bolsters are great for this pose because it props your legs up and gives your back more support which allows you to relax comfortably.
Lying flat on your back, place the bolster under your knees and allow your legs and feet to fall where they may. Breathe in deeply and exhale out allowing all of the muscles in your body to relax and melt into the mat.
Allow every single thought that you have to come and go with no judgments. Stay in this pose for about five to ten minutes and enjoy the stillness.
This pose is an amazing heart opener and can be done at the beginner or towards the end of practice. Space is instantly created in your lower back and eases any compression that may be present.
This is a great modified pose if you do not want to be in full wheel pose.
The bolster should be behind you vertically, aligning the shortest end to the lowest part of the back, make sure the bolster is snug to your back then lie directly back on the on it.
You may want to place a block or pillow under your head if you are on the taller side, rest your arms to the side and your legs can be out straight or in butterfly pose. Stay in this pose for three to five minutes.
Supported Seated Forward Fold – Paschimottanasana
Forward folds are good for lengthening and strengthening your muscles. This pose is packed with incredible benefits such as providing stretch for the hamstrings, lower back and spine all the while reducing stress and anxiety.
You can do this pose standing or seated but seated is the best if you are using a bolster.
Begin by sitting upright with your legs straight out in front of you with the bolster on your legs, make sure you are rooting down in your sit bones while lengthening the back of your body to the sky.
Inhale your arms over your head then exhale your upper body onto the bolster and fold into it. Keep your feet active and find a comfortable place to rest your head and forehead, relax and stay in this pose for three to five minutes.
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend – Upavistha Konasana
Bolsters can help you get to your flexibility goal by providing support, comfortable support. Sit upright with your legs stretched out to each side as wide as you can put them without injuring yourself.
You always want to be comfortable yet challenge yourself in yoga poses but you do not want to injure yourself. Keep your feet flexed and place the bolster in front of your pubic bone directly lining up with the trunk of your body.
Inhale and exhale as you lengthen and fold over the bolster. Keep the sit bones grounded into the earth with active legs. Stay in this pose for three to five minutes.
Supported Sukhasana – Easy Pose
This pose is challenging for most because we are not used to sitting cross-legged on the floor for short or long periods of time.
A good portion of us sit behind a desk all day, every day on chairs with our eyes glued to computer screens. A yoga bolster can help anyone in this pose to make it comfortable.
Make sure to find a comfortable position before crossing your legs, sit upright on the bolster with your ankles in front of each other and you can also do half or full lotus pose.
Your pelvis will float forward if your knees are rested on the ground which naturally lengthens the spine. You must make sure that your core is engaged to support your lower back.
Roll your shoulders back and bring your hands to a comfortable place whatever that may be for you. Take a deep breath, exhale, relax and settle into the stillness of the pose.
Allow each and every thought to come and go without judgment. Stay in this pose for three to five minutes.
Supported Camel Pose – Ustrasana
This pose, if not done properly can cause intense pain in your lower back. If you are not quite comfortable with doing this pose fully, this is where the bolster comes in to assist you.
Injury occurs when yogis do not properly reach for the heels and end up compressing into the lower back, which is the complete opposite of what the pose is supposed to achieve.
Yogis that practice this pose consistently will learn to send the hips forward which allows the sternum to lengthen to the sky opening the heart.
Put the bolster against the wall in a vertical position making sure to place a blanket underneath the bolster for knee support. Arrange your body to touch the bolster with your pubic bone directly touching the prop.
Lengthen your chest to the ceiling and this allows your legs and thighs to push into the prop. If you are comfortable you can let your head fall back, just enough to relax and this will allow your whole body to relax.
Stay in this pose for as long as it takes for you to do 5 inhales and exhales. It is important that once you come out of this pose to immediately take a child’s pose to give your lower back time to release.
Supported King Pigeon – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Supported King Pigeon is a pose that some yogis feel extremely intimidated by because it requires your body to move and be in such a way that may not be normal to some.
But with consistent practice, as with all poses, the pose can be perfected. The bolster is an excellent starting point to begin to master this pose. You can also use the bolster when after you’ve mastered this pose.
Line the bolster against the wall in a vertical position making sure to place a blanket underneath the bolster for added support.
After you have lined your bolster, go into pigeon pose and bend the leg that is in the back to lean on the bolster. If your front hip happens to reach the floor you can reach for the back foot that should already be touching the bolster.
If pigeon pose is new to you, this pose will be extremely challenging to you at first but what you can do is to use blocks on each side placing your hands on each block and opening your chest.
Whichever position you choose to take, try to stay in that position for five long deep breaths and relax with each breath. It is extremely important once you come out of this pose to immediately go into child’s pose to release your low back and hips.
Yoga bolsters are for any yogis, beginners to experts. Props are used for stability, balance and to allow yogis to feel comfortable and free within their practice. Every yoga pose welcomes a prop and can be integrated.
What Are the Benefits of Yoga Bolsters?
There are many, many benefits of yoga bolsters being used in your practice. Much like other props, bolsters are beneficial because they can encourage yogis to relax in modifications or carefully push themselves in challenging poses.
Yoga bolsters provide stability, balance, and support for the yogi during their practice. Below are more benefits, that you may be surprised about, that yoga bolsters provide.
Provides Support to the Body
Yoga bolsters provide exceptional support for the body in challenging poses. If you happen to be in a challenging pose and you are not using a bolster you may feel some discomfort.
You can place the bolster under your hips, knees, neck, ankles or arms to provide support, comfort and prevent injuries in certain poses.
Improves Body Posture
Our posture is compromised numerous times throughout the day and can affect us in the short and long run. Bolsters improve body posture with consistent use in certain poses by providing stability for the yogi.
Over time if a yogi uses a bolster during each posture they will begin to see significant improvement in their posture.
Let’s face it, we are all stressed whether on a daily basis or during certain times of our lives. It can be difficult for some people to deal with stress and to find relief.
Yoga is an incredible stress reliever because yoga forces you to slow down, be in the moment and listen to your breath. An added bonus to stress relief is if a bolster is used during practice.
During poses that are used for restorative purposes, the bolster stimulates the nervous system which gives the body the message of relief. Yoga bolsters are used during many restorative yoga style practices because of the stress and muscle tension relief benefits.
Improves Blood Circulation
Some people have poor blood circulation whether caused by diet, lack of exercise, heredity, etc., it can lead to other serious health issues.
A remedy for poor blood circulation is to exercise regularly and here is where yoga comes in. Yoga helps to improve blood circulation because of the constant movement with breath which helps with blow flow to your heart.
Adding a bolster also helps to improve blood circulation. Using the bolster in certain poses that require the bolster to be against the spine, chest or shoulders forces the yogi’s posture to become open.
When you are in poses that require your spine, chest or shoulders to become opened controlled breathing occurs and your organs are benefitted.
Reduces Swelling and Inflammation
Many people are in one position all day due to work demands, whether it’s sitting or standing. Being in one position for an extended amount of time can lead to swelling and inflammation in the body which can lead to serious health issues.
Yoga bolsters can help purge the body of the effects of being in one position for an extended period of time. Certain poses can help with swelling and inflammation and if done with a bolster significant change can and will occur.
Metabolism is a funny thing. Some people have incredible metabolism and others struggle with even losing a pound. Everyone is different and everyone has different genes.
Bolsters can help improve metabolism for those that are struggling or for those that just want to maintain their current healthy metabolism.
Poses that require twisting and turning stimulates the digestive system and if you add a bolster this will improve your metabolism. Bolsters help you stay in poses for longer periods of time, especially poses that require twisting and turning of the abdomen.
What is the Best Yoga Bolster?
For some yogis, the hard, cold wooden floor is just too much for them to handle, even with a yoga mat.
Some yogis need an added level of support and that is where the yoga bolster comes into play. Yoga bolsters provide that extra level of support that is needed by some yogis.
Now that you have decided that you need yoga bolster, the search is on for the best one. During your search, you may feel overwhelmed because of all of the brands and reviews but do not worry because these are the best yoga bolsters on the market.
Although firm in texture, this is one of the best bolsters for sitting poses because it is extremely comfortable, stable and great for stretching.
You will find this bolster in many yoga studios around the world.
This bolster is available in a variety of colors and is great for prenatal and restorative yoga practices.
If you have trouble sleeping due to not being able to find a comfortable position or if you have pain in your back or legs, this bolster provides excellent support for that. Perfect for use during meditation because of its firmness it provides your back and mind with much-needed support.
The company that created this bolster truly believe that in order to keep your mind healthy you also must keep the environment healthy.
With different variations, you just have to know what exactly you are looking to use the bolster for and you will then find which one is best for you. But this company can also customize your bolster for you, which is cool if you know what you want.
Each bolster in their collection provides support for different parts of your body – hips, knees, legs, upper and lower back, etc., and you will find that you can enjoy your yoga practice more due to freedom, balance, and stability.
Specifically designed to fit the yogi’s needs, circular in shape and filled with buckwheat, this bolster provides excellent support for the back and some people even use it outside of their yoga practice.
This company will also customize your bolster for you, no matter what size or shape you are, this bolster can be made to fit you.
If you want comfort, this bolster is soft and will answer that call.
If you want support during restorative poses, prenatal yoga or for your back and legs while sleeping, this bolster will also answer that call. This bolster is extremely versatile and will provide comfort or support for you when needed.
If you need support under your legs during corpse pose, this bolster is great for that because of its rectangular shape. If your yoga practice is filled with poses that are done through deep breathing, this bolster is the best one for those practices.
This company connects with yogis who are conscious consumers because they understand that they came to them because the bolster has something for them as well as its positive impact on the environment.
Different meditative and relaxation poses require sitting straight up for long periods of time, this bolster will provide comfort and support for your legs and back during those poses.
Some yogis find this bolster more firm than other bolsters and other yogis find this bolster not as firm as other bolsters, it is still very comfortable and provides the necessary support to the yogis who use it during their yoga practice. There is a bolster to meet every yogi’s needs.
How to Clean Yoga Bolsters
Now that you have been using your bolster for quite some time, you are probably thinking what do I need to do to clean this to ensure that bacteria and other germs stay away.
Bolsters collect bacteria and germs because during yoga you are putting your sweaty body on it and you are around other sweaty yogis. Bolsters just want to be cleansed every now and then.
Remove the cover of the bolster because the cleaning should be of the cover, not the actual bolster. Water is the one ingredient that is every single cleaning solution for anything and cleaning a bolster is no exception.
The initial cleaning should be done with cold water with a small amount of laundry detergent in the washing machine with similar colors and air dried or in the dryer on the lowest heat setting.
Most bolster covers are made from 90% cotton and shrink during the initial wash but are made slightly bigger than the bolster itself so that it can always fit back on after cleaning but it is still important to be mindful.
It is very important to clean your bolster cover as frequently as possible because sweat and bacteria may not be visible but they are sitting on the cover waiting to spread like wildfire. This cleaning routine is quick and easy, so it should not be difficult to keep your bolster cover clean.
Yoga Bolsters Provide Great Support and Stability
Yoga bolsters are a yogi’s best friend during practice because it provides support and stability. It can be used in various different poses and there are many great varieties to choose from.
When looking for a bolster, read reviews and find the one that works best for you and what you are looking to gain from using one.
Beginner and experienced yogis use yoga bolsters to provide balance, freedom, stability, and support during their practices. With the many varieties of yoga bolsters, there is one that will meet the needs of every single yogi.