5 Ways A Bolster Can Deepen Your Yoga Practice
I like to think of yoga as being a perfect example of how life is about the journey, not the destination. You don’t need to ‘master’ all the advanced asanas, to gain the amazing benefits. You simply need to listen to your body and work at your own pace. - It is in the process of progression that the real magic is found!
Yoga doesn’t discriminate against age or sex, shape or size, strengths or weaknesses, nor your level of experience. No matter who you are, or what your lifestyle envolves, yoga can provide you with tools and techniques that will help enhance your physical and mental wellbeing.
There have always been varying levels of asana, pranayama and bundas, some more suitable for beginners and others for more advanced practitioners. There have also been numerous variations created, over time, to help accommodate everyone. Enabling greater access regardless of whether you have an injury, a disability, or are just starting out.
However, in the 1960s, teachers such as the notable B.K.S Iyengar noticed that many people were still struggling to safely move into, or hold, certain asanas, even with the use of variations. This instigated the birth of numerous yoga props and accessories, including the diverse, and incredibly enjoyable, yoga bolster!
Though they might look petty, yoga bolsters are not just a decorative cushion for sitting on. They are an incredibly versatile tool, that can help you take your yoga practice to the next level. They enable greater access to different poses by providing enhanced safety and comfort. They have also opened up the world of restorative yoga, helping you experience a deeper level of stretch, release and relaxation.
How are they used, and why?
During restorative yoga, bolsters can be placed under certain parts of your body, or against a wall. This helps you deepen your stretch, as well as enhance the releasing and relaxing benefits.
Yet yoga bolsters are also a fantastic tool in many other areas, such as;
- To aid in supporting the belly, for women practising prenatal yoga.
- When working with an injuries, or disability.
- To support you in a seated position.
- To help you as you progress towards with certain poses.
Getting started using your yoga bolster
Here are 5 examples of how you can use your yoga bolster to help deepen your yoga experience:
Supta Virasana - Supported Backbend
- Start in Vajrasana, with your bolster lengthways on your matt, behind you.
- Place your hands on the ground, behind you on either side of the bolster.
- Lift your hips slightly, if you need to, then slowly lower yourself back over your bolster.
- Relax your arms and allow your whole body to surrender into the support.
- Enjoy this blissful backbend for as long as you like.
Balasana - Childs pose
- Kneel on the floor, separating your knees so that you can place your bolster in between your thighs.
- Gently fold forward until your chest and belly are resting on the bolster.
- Turn your head to one side, and allow your arms to relax either side of the bolster.
- Breathing into the posture, allow your weight to surrender completely as you relax into the pose.
- After relaxing here for a while, turn your head to the opposite side, for balance, as you continue to enjoy this supported child’s pose.
Upavista Konasana - Wide seated forward bend
- Sitting upright, with your legs stretched out as far apart as is comfortable (You want to challenge yourself, but not over-stretch).
- Place your bolster up against your pubic bone and in line with your torso.
- Activate your quad muscles by flexing your feet, to help protect your hamstrings as you both lengthen, and fold forward over your bolster.
Stretch down through your sitting bones, as you relax here, to help lengthen the stretch. Hold as long as you like, enjoying the supported forward bend stretch.
Viparita Karani - Legs to wall pose
- Have one end of your mat up against a wall, and position yourself with your buttocks touching the wall and your legs leaning against it.
- Bend your knees and then push off the wall so that you can lift your pelvis up high enough to place your bolster underneath your hips.
- Relax back down over your bolster, while relaxing your arms at your sides, or in prayer position at your chest.
Matsyanana - Supported fish variation
- Sitting upright, place a bolster behind you with one end pressed up against your lower back.
- Place another bolster under your knees, sideways, so that your legs are relaxed over it.
- Use your hands on either side, to slowly lower yourself back over the bolster behind you.
- Relaxing your hands where ever is comfortable. Holding this position for the desired length of time.
About the Author:
Hannah is an Australian born writer who specializes in Fitness, Nutrition, & Spirituality. She holds a degree in social science, a diploma in Health Science and a diploma in Yogic Studies and Teaching. Hannah is certified yoga instructor and personal trainer with over 10 years experience .