Second only to a skilled yoga teacher with an eagle eye for alignment and energetic inaccuracies, yoga props are THE best way to transform your yoga practice. There are limitless ways to use blocks, blankets, straps, sandbags, and even eye pillows to help heighten awareness, make poses more accessible, and support relaxation.
So, why is it that I’m so smitten with my yoga bolster?
It helps me relaaaaaaax in a really efficient (even quick!) way..
Do you relate? I know I’m not unique here. (2020, hello!?)
So, while I love a sweaty, challenging vinyasa yoga session as much as the next guy … These days, I need to balance all the busy with down time.
And while there are many different things that could fit into the category of productive downtime–guided meditation, bath time yoga, and journaling are a few of my favorites–there’s something so simple and lovely about draping yourself over a comfy yoga bolster.
Do you have a yoga bolster lying around your house collecting dust? It’s time to break that bad boy out and put it to use!
Here are 10 Relaxing Yoga Poses to Try with a Yoga Bolster
The following poses are a much better way to unwind at the end of the day than my less healthy go-to, wine and popcorn. (I’m far from perfect, friends… but also, a little indulgence every now and then isn’t a bad thing!) I’m going to give myself grace, but then also make a point to do the following practice more often.
Try these poses as a standalone practice or you an do them all in a row for a longer practice. Of course, the point here is to. make yourself feel comfy so you can breathe deeply and feel your muscles soften and relax. That means if anything feels uncomfortable for any reason, just skip right on down to the next one.
Downward Facing Dog with Bolster Support
It takes a little trial-and-error, but if you can figure out just the right placement of the bolster, it makes a fabulous resting spot for your head in Downward Facing Dog.
Stay here for 5 breaths or as long as you’re comfortable.
See also How to Modify Downward Dog for Pregnancy
Child’s Pose with a bolster is a really great way to melt away the day’s tensions.
This one is a great modification for pregnant moms who want to practice Legs-Up-the-Wall because you’re not flat on your back. But even if you’re not expecting, the bolster under the low back feels pretty amazing. If you have a thicker bolster (see photo) it can even serve as a gentle backbend. (Who doesn’t love multi-tasking?)
Pigeon is pretty great whether you’re using a bolster or not. But I love this version because if you’re used to bringing your forehead all the way to the floor, the bolster gives you permission to back off. When you’re not folding so far, you can pay attention to the nuances of the pose, relax into it, and even stay for longer if you’d like to.
Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend
When I’m craving a hamstring stretch at the end of the day, this is my go-to. First sit up big and tall, and take a gentle side stretch to each side. Then build a bolster tower with blocks or whatever other props you have and fold forward.
Note: While this is a passive pose, I like to keep my feet and legs active to help me avoid over stretching.
Do I even need to explain why I love this very untraditional version of Fish Pose? The photo speaks for itself, right?
Make sure to position your bolster so that your shoulder blades are resting close to the midpoint on the width of the bolster. You may have to shift forward and back a couple times until you find the sweet spot.
Then, reach your arms overhead, breathe deep, and enjoy.
The magic in this pose is you’re opening your chest and shoulders in a very gentle and supportive way. To get into the pose, bring the bottom tips of your shoulder blades to the top edge of the bolster. (Your torso and hips will be elevated on the bolster.)
If you have TWO rectangle bolsters, you can use one to support your torso and the second to support your legs. In my photo, I’m just using a block to lift my feet so my legs are the same height as my hips.
Spinal Twist Variation
Bring one hip to the bottom edge of your bolster. Stack one your top leg on top of the other, knees bent to a right angle. Then, lower yourself over your bolster, facing the floor. Snuggle into this gentle twist for a few breaths before you switch to go the other direction
Supported Goddess Pose or Cobbler’s Pose
There are a few different names for this pose. I prefer Goddess Pose for when it’s so propped and supported. For the pose in the photo, I used my blocks to make a ramp of my bolster, and supported my thighs with a long rolled blanket. (The blanket roll goes over the feet and under both thighs. If you’re taller, you might need a separate blanket roll for each leg.)
Final Resting Pose
When would you want to put a bolster under the knees for Savasana or Final Resting Pose? Definitely if you’re dealing with low back discomfort or if you’re legs are tired from a long day on your feet.
You don’t really need a reason to give yourself a little extra support and love. Remember that.
You deserve to feel relaxed. You deserve to unwind. You deserve to reward yourself in a healthy way for your biggest accomplishments–even if your biggest accomplishment was keeping your kids alive, healthy, and somewhat entertained. ESPECIALLY if that was your biggest accomplishment because motherhood is exhausting even on our best days.
Try out a new relaxing pose today, and be sure to comment below to let me know which one you liked the most!