yoga props

Prop It Like It's Hot: The Bolster

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Support your practice with the help of a bolster

Photos by Craig Knox

Yoga props are meant to support your practice, whether you are looking to deepen, restore or both! As we continue with our Prop It Like It's Hot series, we're highlighting the bolster, also known as the (usually) largest, firmest cushion in the prop closet. The long, rounded-rectangular design of a bolster is perfect for maximum coverage when you're looking to really melt into long holds or get support from something bigger than a block. Here's a look at some of our favourite ways to incorporate this big beautiful helper! 

The bolster is perfect when you want that little bit of extra height for any seated posture.

The bolster is perfect when you want that little bit of extra height for any seated posture.


Supta Baddha Konasana - Reclined Butterfly

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Nice long holds are such a treat in this amazing front body opener. In Supta Baddha Konasana, try different configurations of your props like placing the bolster vertically up your spine or feel extra supported with cushions/blankets/blocks under the knees. A strap around your waist and ankles is heavenly as well but we'll save that for another post - we're sure this posture will show up in a future Prop It Like It's Hot feature!


Supta Virasana - Reclined Hero Pose

Supta Virasana or Reclined Hero Pose can look daunting and feel unattainable if the prop-er props aren't considered. Variations include placing the bolster under your tailbone or a bit higher into the lower back. You may find stacking a blanket or block in the mix might give you more space to soften as well. Supporting your head is always a nice addition!


Supta Matsyendrasana Variation - Supported Torso Twist

This twist is pure torso heaven! Tuck the bolster right snug to your hip crease on the side body, laying forward and sending your gaze in the opposite direction of your knees. The result is a gentle twist that reaches into your cervical spine. Allow your jaw to soften and breathe into the sides of your neck. You can play around with arm variations to find your sweet spot!  


Supported Stacked Legs

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It can be so nice to just explore on your bolster, finding the exact alignment your body needs. Stacking your legs above your hips is grounding and nourishing for not only the legs but the lower back, up the spine and into the back of the head. The gentle incline created is the perfect prep posture for Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) or Plow (Halasana). 


And finally, Savasana...!

Keep striving for maximum comfort and support throughout your entire practice, especially when it's time to fully unwind. A bolster may be the perfect addition to your well-earned rest. 

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Stay tuned for future instalments of Prop It Like It's Hot! Have a suggestion or favourite you'd like to see featured? Reach out! Namaste. 

Prop it Like it’s Hot: Meditation Cushions

All photos in this post by Dean Tumibay

All photos in this post by Dean Tumibay

The yoga world is full of many tools that are used to both enhance and support your practice. The “Prop it like it’s hot” series will review a number of different yoga props, and how practitioners can use them as a base for modifying, or in some cases, deepening your asana practice. For this portion of the series, we’re reviewing meditation cushions.

While the name suggests that this prop is used primarily for meditation, we’ll review how a meditation cushion can also help to enhance more active postures for both beginner and advanced practitioners.


Using the cushion for a seated meditation

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Often, meditation is challenging for people who are starting out, as people find that there are too many distractors to tune out. One challenge is finding a comfortable position to sit in for an extended period of time. Meditation cushions in this regard provide a perfect balance between a firm surface that provides appropriate support for the sacrum, but enough compliance to contour to the shape of your pelvis. While many people assume you sit in the middle of a meditation cushion, we actually encourage practitioners to sit on the edge, allowing the cushion to slightly elevate the posterior surface of the pelvis. This encourages a slight anterior pelvic tilt. By sitting on the edge of the cushion, and allowing the hips to roll forward slightly, we encourage the natural curvature of the lumbar spine into lordosis, allowing us to comfortably stack our shoulders over our hips.

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Using the cushion for forward folds

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Tight hamstrings and general tension in the pelvic region is a common ailment in a culture conditioned to sit for long periods of time. In these cases, seated forward folds, such as paschimottanasana as well as baddha konasana with a forward fold can be particularly challenging. As it does with a seated meditation, sitting at the cushion’s edge can facilitate a gentle anterior pelvic tilt, encouraging a soft forward fold while maintaining proper alignment of the lumbar spine. This encourages proper alignment in our forward folds, and prevents the tendency towards rounding the lower back.

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Using the cushion for twists

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The compliance of the meditation cushion allows it to conform to our pelvis, but it’s equally firm nature provides enough support to allow us to remain grounded in our posture. In seated twists, due to tightness in our hips, often times one side of our pelvis will have difficulty remaining connected to the earth resulting in a lopsided seat that is unstable to perform a twist from. With the help of a cushion, we can have an even distribution of weight through our base to allow us to focus on a deeper rotation through our spine.

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Using the cushion for active postures

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Many yoga postures require us to bear weight through our knees, which for many can be an uncomfortable experience. We can maintain the integrity of these postures, such as a low crescent lunge, with our knees propped on a comfortable surface like a meditation cushion that allows us to go deeper into the posture, without having to endure pain during the hold. For deep postures such as the front splits (hanumanasana) or any modified variation, the meditation cushion propped under our back leg allows for support through that limb, but gives space for the pelvis to go even deeper into the asana.

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We have meditation cushions available for purchase at both our south and north locations. If you have experience using meditation cushions or meditation props in your practice, please feel free to email info@yogalifestudios.ca with your experience! If there are any specific props you’d like to see in our “Prop it Like it’s Hot” series, again please contact us via info@yogalifestudios.ca or our various social media streams (twitter, Instagram, Facebook).

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