Yoga Design Lab

5 Unexpected Ways a Bolster Can Boost Your Yoga Practice

May 10, 2024

5 Unexpected Ways a Bolster Can Boost Your Yoga Practice

A bolster is a fantastic way to boost your yoga practice, especially your yin or restorative yoga practice. Think of a bolster as a yoga prop that resembles a long pillow. While yin yoga focuses more on your connective tissues and deep stretching, restorative yoga focuses more relaxation and passive poses. Adding a bolster to either practice will benefit you greatly. I’m a firm believer that props are able to strengthen our practice, may it be Yin, Restorative, Hatha, Vinyasa and a bolster is a perfect example of that. Bolsters can increase your calmness and comfort levels, strengthen your alignment, deepen your body into stretches, allow modifications in your practice, and support your body – physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

The first way a bolster can boost your practice is by increasing your ability to make you feel more calm, at ease, and supported – physically and mentally. 

Try it out: On your yoga mat, take a comfortable seat on your bolster and shift slightly forward while tucking your tailbone and pushing your pelvic bone forward. You can take one hand to your heart and one hand to your belly or gently place both hands on your knees – face down to ground down, or face up to receive the energy you are creating. Imagine yourself sinking into your bolster, breath by breath and moment by moment. Start to think and breathe into comfort. There is no rush to immediately dive into your meditation. Pause and notice what comes up in your breath and mind. Now, start to take your breath a little deeper. Continue to let your sit bones sink into your bolster at each breath. Feel yourself find more ease and comfort. Find length in your spine and send the top of your head towards the sky. Start to lengthen your breaths by counting each inhale and exhale for 3 counts and then 5 counts. Keep this slow breath, and now allow your exhales to be longer than your inhales. You will be able to slow down any remaining thoughts you may have. Now feel yourself sink in a bit more. Breathe into the calmness and comfort you are creating for yourself. Know that this calmness and comfort is always available to you. 

Secondly, a bolster can aid alignment. Alignment is a critical piece of not only getting into a yoga pose, but also of your yoga practice. Alignment allows you to utilize the muscles intended in each pose to strengthen them, while avoiding injury. Alignment also ensures that you are engaging the right muscles in each pose you move into. Bringing your mind and breath to your alignment will deepen and strengthen your practice exponentially. 

Try it out: You can find further alignment in a child’s pose. Place your bolster vertically in the center of your yoga mat. Move into your child’s pose and think about almost hugging your bolster. Plant your right ear on your bolster and take your gaze to the left. Gently shut down your eyes. With each breath, think about your hips sinking closer to your heels and your heart melting into your bolster. Softly open your eyes, lay your forehead on your bolster, and start to shift to the other side by planting your left ear to your bolster and taking your gaze to the right. Once again, gently shut down your eyes. Let your breath get deeper here, as well as the alignment in your child’s pose. Bring your head back to center, lift up through your chest, and remove the bolster. Sit back into a child's pose and acknowledge the differences and how your body is starting to feel more aligned. 

Additionally, a bolster can deepen poses that stretch out your muscles in a juicy way. Taking mindful moments to stop and stretch is vital to balance any physical movement. Recovery for our muscles to rest and stretch is a key factor to strengthening our muscle mass. Stretching allows for our muscles to reduce any tension and stress they may carry, which could include soreness from other physical activity. By using a bolster you can let your muscles stretch more. 

Try it out:  Think about laying down on your bolster with the bolster being vertically placed on your yoga mat. From there, stack your spine on top of the bolster so the top of your spine sits at the top of your bolster and the bottom of your spine sits at the bottom of your bolster. Kiss the bottoms of your feet together and bend into your knees so you find a supta baddha konasana pose, or a reclined bound angle pose. This allows for you to find a deeper opening in your heart allowing for deeper stretching and breathing, as well as comfort along your spine. 

YDL Yoga Bolster - Our Restorative, Eco-Friendly Pillow - Yoga Design Lab

Furthermore, a bolster allows you to modify specific yoga poses to gain additional accessibility. Pushing yourself and your body to a specific pose is never beneficial, especially in the very moment and quickly. Challenging yourself too much can lead to injuries. It’s best to take it slow while getting into various poses, even if they are restorative, and modify your body as needed. This will allow for a stronger practice in the long run. 

Try it out:  You can find accessibility in a lizard lunge. Bring your bolster horizontally at the top of your yoga mat so it’s parallel to the top-line of your yoga mat essentially. Start in a downward facing dog. On your inhale, take your right leg high into a three leg dog and on your exhale place your right foot outside of your right palm, coming into an active lizard lunge pose. Start to breathe into your right hip. Take your palms to your bolster, keeping both palms about shoulder-width distance. Release your left toes and left knee onto your yoga mat. You can stay on your palms and continue to breathe into your right hip. If you want to find additional accessibility to your right hip, start to come down to your forearms. Let your breath slow down here and find more opening in all parts of your right hip. Come back to your palms, lift your left knee, tuck your left toes, plant your palms back onto your yoga mat and take your right leg back up into a three leg dog. Come back to your downward facing dog and invite fresh blood flow by bending deeply into one knee at a time then into both knees. Once you feel ready, take this on your left side. Acknowledge how each side feels different and acknowledge how the bolster creates accessibility for you to drop down onto your forearms in a lizard lunge. 


Lastly, a bolster supports your body. Think of a bolster as a cushion holding your body. We all need extra support at times and it’s important to take that extra support and ease into comfort. This support can come in physical, mental, and emotional forms. As humans, it’s natural to yearn for support in all forms. The practice of yoga allows for us to deal with our mental and emotional feelings in a healthy way.

Try it out: One of my favorite ways to find support in all ways is using my bolster in a child's pose as mentioned above. Another comforting way is by using a bolster in Savasana. Lay on your bolster vertically in the center of your yoga mat and gently press  your spine on it. Find the alignment from the bottom of your bolster and spine to the top of your bolster and spine. Another way to use a bolster in savasana, is by placing your bolster horizontally on your yoga mat and laying your legs over it. You should find the highest point at your lower thighs and knees section. 

YDL Yoga Bolster - Our Restorative, Eco-Friendly Pillow - Yoga Design Lab

Overall, a bolster can boost your yoga practice, physical practice and mental practice, in infinite ways, especially your yin or restorative practice. We recommend Yoga Design Lab’s Yoga Bolster - Our Restorative, Eco-Friendly Pillow. It is designed with a non-slip grip and durability. The inner cover is made from 100% cotton and the outer cover is made from recycled microfibers. The filling is created from cotton batting, foam core made from Plastic Polymer Foam. Each bolster is created from 12 recycled plastic bottles. The bolster is 5 in x 10 in x 24 inches and weighs 5.5 pounds. Keep your bolster clean by taking a damp cloth to it. Take care of it by storing it in a clean, cool, and dry place. Try incorporating a bolster into your practice and comment below how your bolster has boosted your practice! 

By Samira Agarwal, RYT

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