The bolster is an indispensable yoga accessory for certain styles of gentle yoga. It not only improves posture but also allows you to go further in your yoga practice in complete safety, especially when you lack flexibility or have troublesome pains. Here is our guide to find the bolster that best suits your practice.
What is a yoga bolster?
The bolster is a yoga cushion that supports the body during stretching and opening postures of the shoulders, hips and heart.
Widely used in China, South Korea and South Asia, it was introduced in the 1960s by Professor BKS Iyengar, who noticed that his students sometimes had difficulty adopting the right posture because of a lack of flexibility.
The yoga bolster aims to bring comfort during the practice of certain postures. It should be neither too soft nor too hard, and can be rectangular or cylindrical in shape.
The two types of yoga bolsters
There are 2 types of yoga bolsters:
• Cylindrical yoga bolster: also called yoga bolster: it facilitates opening and stretching postures by following the shape of the body.
• Rectangular yoga bolster: it can be used flat or on the edge, as support during stretching postures or as a meditation cushion.
Why use a yoga bolster?
Like other yoga accessories (bricks, straps, blocks, etc.), the yoga bolster is intended primarily for beginners in the practice who need support to feel comfortable in certain postures. It can be placed under the legs, under the shoulders, or under the pelvis. The yoga bolster will be used especially in the corpse posture (Savasana), the posture of the plough (Halasana). The bolster allows you to hold the postures safely, without feeling uncomfortable, and long enough to enter deeply into the posture.
Using a yoga bolster will allow you to practice improving your postures and discover new asanas to expand your yoga practice.
The bolster is mostly used in the practice of gentle yoga styles, such as Restorative Yoga, Iyengar Yoga (which focuses on aligning the postures), Yin Yoga, or Prenatal Yoga.
Our criteria for choosing your yoga bolster
To properly choose your yoga bolster, you must take into account the following criteria:
The fabric of the bolster (polyester, cotton ...) :
It is better to prefer a soft and comfortable fabric, but also resistant and easy to wash. The bolster's padding (kapok, spelt ball, cotton, buckwheat...) : the lighter you are, the more you should choose a soft bolster. The bolster should not be too soft (otherwise it will lose its shape over the years), but also not too hard to stay comfortable.
The size of the bolster :
The cylindrical bolster exists in two sizes (mini and standard). The mini-bolster is placed under the neck, and the standard bolster (63 x 23 cm or 69 x 23 cm) under the knees, pelvis or shoulders. To choose the size of your bolster, take into account your size, your flexibility, and the postures you plan to do with your yoga accessory.
The color of the bolster :
If you are a fan of chromatherapy (where each color has its own energy that interacts with the body), color is important. For example, green is linked to the heart chakra, so it will stimulate optimism and mental stability; while blue is linked to the throat chakra, so it will stimulate inner serenity and listening to others.
How to use your yoga bolster?
The bolster is mainly used as a support for certain asanas, when you have difficulty entering the posture due to a lack of flexibility or because of pain. It can be used as a back support, to learn how to open the shoulders and the heart. It is also used as support under the pelvis in the easy posture (Sukhasana) or in the wide angle sitting forward posture (Upavistha Konasana), or on the legs in the western stretching posture (Paschimottanasana). At the end of the session, a bolster can also be used as a support under the knees during the corpse posture (Savasana) to relieve the back.
What are the other yoga accessories?
In addition to the bolster, you can improve your postures and enrich your yoga practice with other yoga accessories:
• The yoga mat: essential to avoid slipping during the practice and to delimit your practice space.
• Bricks: they help to maintain certain postures but also to extend the arms in case of lack of flexibility.
• Blocks and wedges: like bricks, they help to better hold postures and extend limbs.
• Yoga straps: they are used to extend arms and legs but also to improve alignment in postures.
The yoga chair: this yoga accessory provides support especially in inverted postures.
To find the best bolster, you must choose your accessory according to your yoga practice, your goals and your physical characteristics.