I wanted to get back into talking about props, since I've covered how to use a yoga strap and how to use yoga blocks. I find bolsters to be fantastic props, particularly when it comes to improving flexibility and deepening relaxation.
How to choose a yoga bolster
Well, first things first. There are generally two types of bolsters - rectangular bolsters and round bolsters. The rectangular bolsters provide a bit more support because they're wider. So you can see in the photo above, my entire back is supported. With a round bolster, it's slightly narrower which means if you have wide shoulders, they might hang off the edge. Maybe that's a positive for your situation, though, as maybe you want the bolster as a chest opening tool. Decide what kind of support you would like and choose the shape that suits you.
Next, consider the weight. The higher quality bolsters will weight more, and therefore provide more support and be sturdier. The lighter ones will be great for travel, but not as effective at supporting the body.
Ways to use a yoga bolster
1. For relaxation
In the photo above, I've placed two yoga blocks underneath my bolster. One block is on its short side so that it's giving me as much height as possible, and the one closest to me is resting on its long side, so it's providing support. Then, I place the bolster over the two and carefully lean back. For the bottom half of the body, you could take baddakonasana legs (first picture), or extend them like in savasana.
Related 30 min restorative yoga video.
2. For low back release
If low back tension is an issue, give a bolster a try and see if that helps. This is where it's a good idea to choose a high quality, heavy bolster that will provide ample support. Place the bolster underneath the iliac crest (tops of your hips) at whatever height feels best to you. From there, take bridge pose, but instead of pressing into the feet to lift the hips, let your hips completely rest on the bolster.
Related 15 min yoga video for the low back.
3. For improved flexibility
If you have tight inner thighs or are working on splits, place a bolster out in front while you're in wide legged forward fold, and drape the upper body over top. As flexibility improves, you can flip a rectangular bolster to lower the height and get deeper into the stretch.
Let's talk Do you have a bolster? How do you use it? Any other props you own and love? Any you would like to know more about?