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How to Use Yoga Bolsters

  • 2 Restorative Inversions to Renew Your Energy

    If you look at the appendix of Light on Yoga, you’ll see that going upside down is central to BKS Iyengar’s system of asana practice. In many of the listings where Iyengar “prescribes” specific poses to help alleviate conditions of imbalance, Sirsasana (Headstand) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand) are the first poses listed. The preponderance of evidence suggests that inverting our bodies is helpful to combatting the negative effects of gravity over time. Because our bodies are 60 percent fluid, in particular, our fluid systems become more efficient when they’re not pooling in our lower extremities. This includes the venous blood, lymph and...

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  • Perfect Support: Slanted Yoga Bolsters

    Whenever I ask my students to go get a yoga bolster, the happiness in the room is palpable. They know that yoga bolsters mean they’re going to get to lie down. And knowing my prop shelves are stacked with Hugger Mugger bolsters makes me happy. Hugger Mugger yoga bolsters make me happy because I know I can trust them to support students of all body types. I know that these bolsters won’t bend or collapse when we slant them on blocks. This is not the case with other brands. I sometimes teach workshops and teacher trainings at other studios. While...

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  • Junior Bolsters: 3 Luxurious Restorative Poses

    People come in all shapes, sizes and levels of strength and flexibility. Because of this, BKS Iyengar invented yoga props to help everyone achieve comfort and steadiness in various poses. While some props, such as yoga blocks, have versatility built in—blocks have three usable dimensions—others, like our Standard Bolsters, may or may not fit everyone. That’s why Hugger Mugger developed Junior Bolsters. These bolsters were originally designed to create an alternative for adults with smaller bodies. But in the decade since they first came on the market, we’ve found lots of other uses for them, no matter what your body...

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  • 4 Reasons to Choose a Hugger Mugger Yoga Bolster

    Way back in the mid-to-late 1980s, Hugger Mugger Yoga Products was a fledgling business in Sara Chambers’s basement. She started with a pair of thigh-hugging shorts and a strap. Soon, she was importing mats and making yoga blocks in her wood shop. Then came yoga bolsters. Inspired by the bolsters used at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute in Pune, India, Sara began making her own. HM’s bolsters were designed to be faithful to the size, shape and firmness of Iyengar’s bolsters. In fact, they still are. We’ve made a few tweaks to our original design over the years to...

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  • Standard Yoga Bolsters 3 Ways

    Last week, I blogged some suggestions for keeping your yoga practice alive when you’re traveling. Travel may be an obstacle to practice sometimes, but general life busyness can also take a toll on our yoga practice. Running through a few quick sun salutations is probably better than no practice, but it won’t necessarily sustain and restore your energies. We also need rest to balance busyness. That’s where restorative yoga comes in. Restorative yoga was developed by BKS Iyengar as a therapeutic practice to heal specific physical imbalances and to regenerate spent energy. Restorative yoga guru Judith Hanson Lasater learned about restorative...

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  • Firm and Soft: The Perfect Yoga Bolster

    If your idea of Restorative Yoga comes only from photos you’ve seen of it—looks boring, you say—your view is likely not accurate. While it’s true that Restorative Yoga does involve lying around on blankets and a yoga bolster for long periods of time, it’s anything but boring. Setting your body up in supported positions that you can then hold for long periods requires knowledge, body awareness and a pile of props. The results can be profound. Restorative Yoga practitioners know its powers well. Restorative practice provides something we all could use in our non-stop lives—deep rest. It is both relaxing and...

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  • 3 Yoga Bolsters, 3 Poses to Restore Your Energy

    Last week, we passed Autumn Equinox. Days are definitely shortening. I gauge this by whether—or when—I have to turn the lights on in my yoga classes. It’s just dark enough in my early morning class that natural light doesn’t suffice. We can still make it through the evening classes with just the sun, but it won’t be long. As the days shorten, we naturally draw inward. After a summer of outdoor fun, fall gives us a chance to burrow in and restore our energies. And of course, Restorative Yoga practice is a healthy way to renew ourselves. In my opinion...

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  • Pranayama Yoga Bolsters 3 Ways

    When we think of pranayama (breathing practice), our minds often conjure up a vision of someone sitting in Padmasana (Lotus Pose) or Sukhasana (Cross-Legged Pose). While pranayama has traditionally been practiced in a seated position, BKS Iyengar, master of props and adaptations, determined that sitting was not the best position for everyone. To accommodate these students, Iyengar came up with a way to allow practitioners to practice in a supine position. Placing a pranayama pillow under the spine from the lumbar to the head, and a blanket supporting the head and neck (see the above photo), any practitioner, no matter what their body...

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  • Pranayama Bolster: Not Just for Pranayama

    Do you practice pranayama? The fourth limb of yoga—coming just after asana—pranayama is an essential part of Hatha Yoga practice. Practicing with attention to the breath is one of the things that separates yoga from other physical disciplines. Pranayama is a slow build. Unlike asana, where people often feel immediate results, breathing practice integrates more gradually. For this reason, many practitioners lose interest. Plus, it can be very frustrating. It can be harder than you’d think to take a deep, satisfying breath. Breathing deeply is especially challenging when we’re sitting. That’s why BKS Iyengar devised a way to practice lying...

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  • Supta Virasana: Restore Your Belly

    Most of us spend the lion’s share of our days sitting in chairs, with our joints in flexion. Our hips are flexed to 90 degrees, as are our knees. Our shoulders hunch forward—unless we constantly remind ourselves not to hunch. By the time I shut down my computer in the evening, my body craves at least a few minutes of the opposite. One of my favorite poses for countering the effects of sitting, as well as preparing my body to wind down for sleep, is Supta Virasana. Supta Virasana is the lying-down version of Virasana, aka “Hero’s Pose.” Supta Virasana...

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