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The best yoga bolsters can help relieve pain, lessen stiffness, and increase comfort during challenging yoga postures. Also sometimes referred to as yoga pillows or yoga cushions, bolsters can be invaluable to pregnant women, individuals with physical limitations, or just regular folks who are feeling sore or could use some extra support with certain positions.
When should you consider using a yoga bolster, and which one should you buy? You’re in the right place to find out… keep reading!
Shapes and Types of Yoga Bolsters
Yoga bolsters are cool props because they add comfort while also helping to open up your muscles and deepen your stretches. That sounds like a win-win all the way around, doesn’t it?
Bolsters can take cylindrical, rectangular, and even circular shapes. Cylindrical cushions tend to be a few inches higher than rectangular pillows, which allows for deeper chest openings and a foundation of sturdy support. The differences between the types aren’t huge, however, so which style you choose to purchase can simply be a matter of personal preference.
Best Yoga Bolsters: Our Top Recommendations
Lotuscrafts is a relatively new name to the bolster market, but they really hit it out of the park with this product. The Lotuscrafts Rectangular Bolster is one of the few cushions that comes in two sizes. The small is 28 x 8 x 6, while the large is 28 x 12 x 8. This gives you the option to decide whether you want a petite bolster or something more substantial.
The Lotuscrafts bolster also comes in several colors, including cornflower, royal blue, anthracite, nature (white), and Bordeaux (red). It’s designed especially for Yin Yoga practitioners, making it one of the best yoga bolsters for restorative yoga. This product is also environmentally friendly, made from organic cotton and non-toxic dyes.
When it comes to yoga bolsters, Hugger Mugger is viewed as one of the best brands around. While some of the most prominent yoga companies haven’t bothered to manufacture pillows, Hugger Mugger has embraced the product, creating more than a dozen styles and colors. Vibrant designs include Bohemian Ikat, Caramel Lotus, Graphic Graphite, and Golden Leaf.
The Hugger Mugger rectangular bolster cushion‘s healthy price reflects its high quality. The bolster is firm, yet reasonably lightweight, and with the proper care it should last a very long time.
At 25″ x 11″ x 5″, the Hugger Mugger pillow is wider than some of the others on the list. It’s the closest to the shape of an actual sleeping pillow. It weighs in with a nice hefty weight of 5 pounds.
Among the most affordably-priced bolsters is the YogaAccessories round supportive pillow. The cylindrical-shaped bolster is made with quality fabric and solid materials that keep it sturdy. At 28 inches long with a diameter of 10 inches, it’s sizable enough to provide a strong level of support in various postures.
Just like with their yoga mats, the YogaAccessories round yoga bolster comes in a wide range of primary and secondary colors, and the cover can be unzipped and removed for easy washing.
Here’s a unique pillow: The Bean Products Bolster comes with a hemp, vinyl, or cotton cover. All three types feature a foam insert, surrounded by cotton padding. So they provide a nice combination of softness and strength.
The different types of materials mean that the Bean Products bolster is a little more expensive. But it’s worth it for folks who like the feel and texture of hemp or vinyl. This product is great for restorative yoga and it has earned tons of positive reviews over the years.
We’ve always like this company – Bean also makes one of our favorite yoga sling straps for carrying your mat!
Manduka seems to show up on every list of the best yoga products, from yoga blocks to mat carriers. The brand name is synonymous with quality and care. That holds true for the Manduka yoga bolster, which utilizes airCORE technology to minimize weight and prevent flattening.
The Manduka soft round bolster comes in royal purple and has a comfortable, plush feeling. The 27 x 9 x 9 cushion is lightweight and comes with a carrying handle built into the fabric. There’s a hidden zipper so you can remove the filling and wash the cover periodically.
Note: In addition to this round bolster, Manduka used to make a nice rectangular pillow, but that one is no longer available for sale on their own website, nor on Amazon. Here’s the Amazon link for the product, in case it returns to stock by the time you’re reading this.
Here’s a really unique product. The Brentwood Home yoga bolster is filled not with typical bolster material, but rather with buckwheat inside a cotton lining. This makes it a bit more firm than some of the other bolsters.
I like my pillows firm, so this one is great for me. You can always add or take away buckwheat to adjust the firmness. It weighs 12 pounds, quite a bit more than the other bolsters on our list.
It also comes in a cool gray color with a nifty circular pattern. This one’s a little more expensive than some of the other top yoga bolsters, but those who want a chic design and the feeling of the unique buckwheat filling may want to give it a try.
The My Zen Dhyana Meditation Cushion doesn’t precisely fit the definite of a bolster, but folks looking for a yoga meditation cushion will likely be satisfied with this pillow. It provides support for the lower back and for tight hips.
This type of cushion can also be referred to as a zafu. You can sit right on top of the cushion, which will lessen strain on the ankles while meditating.
The dimensions of the My Zen Home Dhyana Meditation Cushion are 21 x 26 x 4, making it roughly the same width as a typical yoga bolster. You can also use this one for casual use around the television!
How to Use a Yoga Bolster Cushion
The ways in which you can use a bolster are almost unlimited. During shavasana (corpse pose), you can slide the bolster under your knees, which reduces tension on your back to enhance overall relaxation.
As the video below instructs, another great use for a bolster is to place it underneath the shoulder blades, which creates more of an arc and opens up the chest as you rest your head back.
There’s an almost infinite number of ways in which you can utilize a yoga bolster. Check out the clip for more helpful hints, or head over here for additional ideas:
You can take your bolster to the yoga studio or use it while traveling or at home during solo practice. Many studios have bolsters available for guests to use.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bolsters
How do you wash bolsters? Can you put them in the washing machine?
Check the instructions or documentation that come with your particular bolster cushion to be sure. In general, most of the best yoga bolsters have a hidden zipper in the fabric so that you can remove the cover.
The cover can then be washed in a machine with your clothes. Be sure to wash on cold, so the material does not shrink! You don’t want to get stuck being unable to get the cover back on after washing. The cushion material inside does not get washed.
What are the benefits of bolster pillows?
The obvious benefit is to add support in various poses. Yogis often place bolsters under their lower back for the comfort and stability. Bolsters can help folks who aren’t super-flexible achieve poses they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do comfortably. For beginners, having a pillow can also bring you peace of mind and make you feel less reluctant to try new positions.
How big (what size) are the best yoga pillows?
Bolsters can vary by shape and size. We’ve listed the dimensions for most of the products above. You can see that most are a couple feet long and roughly 8 to 12 inches wide. Whether you want a short, flat bolster or a thick, round one is totally a matter of personal preference. Personally, we prefer the elongated shape of the Hugger Mugger and Lotuscrafts yoga bolsters.
What other yoga props should I consider?
Other props that serve similar purposes as bolsters include cork yoga blocks and Mexican yoga blankets. Blocks are obviously harder than bolsters, but they add the same level of support. Blankets, meanwhile, are just as soft as bolsters but are more dense and solid, so they can provide a nice level of support as well.
Knee pads are also an option if you’re performing yoga at home and want to give your knees a break. There’s also the yoga wheel, a fun prop that is also used for support like a bolster, except that the wheel is usually made of bendable PVC plastic. And finally, those with wrist pain or tenderness should have a look at the best yoga gloves, which can add stability to your hands.
How to Choose the Best Yoga Bolsters: Summary
Whether you’re preparing for prenatal yoga or simply want to deepen your postures and create a more pleasurable and tension-free restorative yoga experience, bolster cushions are a great way to make it happen.
The best yoga bolsters are durable, stylish, and a wise investment for anyone who is serious about their practice. They’re fairly affordable, and they can make a big difference in your practice, so try one out! Search around to find the one that works best for you.
Do you have another suggestion for the best yoga pillows? Let us know!