In today’s fast-paced, digitally connected and stressful world, more and more people are seeking avenues that will allow them to live healthier (both physically and mentally) lives. Yoga, an ancient discipline that dates back to 5000 years ago from India seems to be an answer for many today. It is a physical and spiritual discipline that essentially promotes integration of all aspects of one’s life – body, mind, and soul – to achieve a balanced and purposeful life.
Through the years, there have been many styles of yoga, but essentially most styles have similar characteristics that require a practitioner to combine postures, breathing exercises and meditation that could be very challenging for beginners to the practice. Hence, the advent of yoga props such as yoga bolsters that aim to provide comfort and support for practitioners in their journey to better health and fitness.
Yoga bolsters are most effective in supporting stretching exercises when practitioners lay facedown on their bellies. They are also great for supporting the stretching of the back, hamstrings, and chest. That said, a yoga bolster can be used to cushion any pressure points in a yoga posture. A good yoga bolster must be firm enough to support the weight of the practitioner.
Yoga bolsters typically come in multiple sizes (large, medium or small) and 2 shapes – round or rectangular.
The various sizes of the bolster provide a practitioner with various amounts of support. Certain postures will require larger-sized bolsters, for example, lying facedown on the belly type of postures will need a bolster large enough to support the entire body.
The tradeoff for larger sizes of bolters would be their weight. As the purpose of a yoga bolster is to provide support, it is important that the bolster be made from strong and dense materials internally so as to provide a firm cushion. These requirements increase the weight of the bolster.
A solid yoga bolster could weigh up to 9~10 pounds!
Rectangular Yoga Bolsters
Rectangular Bolsters Rectangular bolsters are generally ideal for postures that require stable support such as in Viparita Karani and Iyengar Yoga. This is because rectangular bolsters have flat surface that does not roll. Rectangular bolsters are also generally flatter, or shorter in height and this allows the practitioner to fold further into forwarding bends as they will be not obstructed by the height of the bolster.
Round Yoga Bolsters
Round Bolsters Round bolsters tend to be larger due to its shape, and they also tend to be higher. Where rectangular bolsters allow greater forward bends, round bolsters allow newer practitioners to more efficiently perform forward bends because it provides the support for a “less-forward” forward bend. For back-stretches, the round shape will also allow a practitioner to bend more backwards than a rectangular bolster.
Whether a practitioner chooses to use a round or rectangular bolster, both types do provide great stability and support. In the end, every practitioner owes it to himself or herself to try out both types and find their own personal preference.
And talking about personal preferences, yoga bolsters typically also come in multiple colours and fabrics that provide practitioners with a greater choice when choosing to buy one.
In conclusion, the yoga bolster is a simple but great solution that has enabled the masses to embrace this 5 thousand years old practice. And in doing so, it has helped many find a better balance and focus in their lives, improved their health, in a world where most people sit in an office for most of the day fixated on computer screens.