What is a bolster?

Traditional bolster pillows have been around a long time. A bolster is a long, firm, narrow, often cylindrical cushion or pillow that is placed under other pillows for support on a bed or a sofa. You can still buy bolster pillows to provide greater support for both day and night today.

So – more specifically – what is a yoga bolster?

A yoga bolster is a popular yoga accessory used to provide comfort, support poses and increase stretching during restorative postures and deep breathing exercises. Most of the yoga accessories that we consider popular now like the yoga bolster weren’t really used much within a yoga practice until the 1960’s, when yoga teachers such as B.K.S. Iyengar noticed that many of their students had trouble maintaining proper posture in certain poses due to injury or lack of flexibility. Iyengar therefore developed and introduced props and equipment to help people access poses with greater comfort and better form.

What is a yoga bolster used for?

Bolsters are widely used in restorative yoga classes. A bolster can be placed under various parts of the body for firm yet comfortable support to encourage total release and relaxation. Restorative yoga can have a deeply soothing effect on the mind and nervous system – think of a bolster as restorative yoga’s best friend!

A bolster is particularly useful in pregnancy yoga and can also be super helpful for anyone working with injuries or specific conditions – basically, a bolster offers support to any part of the body that requires more support.

Our go-to poses using a bolster…

The wonderful thing about bolsters (and all yoga props) is that there are infinite ways in which they can be used. As always, it is best to be led by how you feel, rather than what a shape or pose looks like.

However, here are a few places to get started. Even just thinking about it makes us soften a little…

Balasana – child’s pose