The different kinds of Yoga Bolsters and their benefits

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At the start of Yoga, some people find it difficult to carry out certain postures due to a variety of reasons such as lack of flexibility, difficulty in holding the posture, etc. In these cases, using Yoga props is an excellent option. Having said that, a person who is flexible may opt for Yoga props because of the additional support and comfort, thereby making the entire experience of Yoga more full and beneficial.

One of the most popular and versatile Yoga props are Yoga Bolsters.

Yoga Bolsters are types of cushions or pillows that are used in different kinds of Yoga schools such as Bikram Yoga, B.K.S Iyengar Yoga and Kripula Yoga. Yoga Bolsters are designed in such a manner that they provide support to and relieve tension in the neck, back, abdomen and legs while performing various kinds of postures. Due to the fact that Yoga Bolsters are firm, they provide cushioning to the back and lower body while practicing Yoga asanas (stances) in the supine position. Yoga Bolsters also stretch out the body completely and align the spine.

There are 3 different varieties of Yoga Bolsters, which are

* Cylindrical bolsters
* Rectangular bolsters
* Pranayama bolsters

Cylindrical Bolsters

Cylindrical Bolsters are firmly packed and are normally heavier and larger than rectangular and Pranayama bolsters. When placed under the neck, knees or ankles they provide support and relieve and tension that may occur in these areas. Additionally, when placed under the knees they lengthen the lower part of the back, which enables deeper breathing. Cylindrical bolsters also provide additional comfort and support which results in practitioners increasing their stretches.

Rectangular Bolsters

Rectangular bolsters have a flat surface and this provides stability to the user. They also provide great relief for any pressure that may occur in the lower back. In addition, the curved sides of the rectangular bolster offer comfort and support for spinal stretches and restorative postures.

Breathing Bolsters

Also called the Pranayama bolster, the breathing bolster – as the name suggests – is used to aid the breathing. Normally this kind of bolster is used when carrying out Pranayamas as it lends support to the spine and allows for slower and deeper breathing. It is different from the rectangular bolster in that it is narrower. When placed on the spine it supports the lengthy muscles that run on its sides, thereby relaxing it completely and letting the chest expand fully.

Choosing a Yoga Bolster which suits you the best it a personal choice and depends entirely on the individual. The best and most effective technique is to lie down on a hard surface and completely relax. Then make a note of the parts of your body which are not touching the ground fully. Depending on the outcome you can realize which parts of your body require a bolster and then choose one accordingly.

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