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Pranayama Bolster

  • 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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  • Home Yoga Practice: 5 Tools for the Journey

    Home Yoga Practice Doesn’t Always Have to Be Solitary Yoga is everywhere these days. Not only do studios abound in most cities, but asana classes can also be found in health clubs, schools and even some medical facilities. It’s safe to say yoga practice has “arrived” in Western culture. If you haven’t yet partaken of a class, it’s hard to know where and how to start. A few months ago, I wrote a post giving suggestions as to how to find a class that’s right for you. Once you’ve found a class you enjoy, and spent some time learning...

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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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  • Savasana for the Prenatal Practice: Part One

    It seems like Savasana is one of the favorite asanas, and if anyone could use a mini-nap, it’s an expecting mama who just finished up a prenatal yoga practice! However, most pregnant women find it uncomfortable to lie on their backs for a long, traditional Savasana pose. This is because back-lying can put pressure on the inferior vena cava, which is the large vein that returns blood to the mother’s heart and brain. So how can a mama find a comfortable position in Savasana? Props! Specifically, yoga bolsters. Soft but supportive, they come in a variety of sizes and shapes, so there are...

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  • How to Choose the Best Yoga Bolsters for Your Practice

    Do you ever feel the need to just lie down and do nothing? It’s no wonder. Most of us spend most of our time working, running from one scheduled commitment to the next—either at work or at home—until we fall into bed to sleep. Or course, sleep is essential, but so is rest. And there is a difference. According to Judith Hanson Lasater, rest differs from sleep, at least partially because in deep sleep our brains are still being stimulated by dreaming. Dreaming, especially stressful dreaming, can create tension in our bodies. When we consciously rest, the aspects of our...

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  • How to Use a Pranayama Pillow

    One of the first bolster-type pillows that Hugger Mugger made back in the 1980s was the pranayama pillow. Made to BKS Iyengar’s specifications, the pillow is designed to support the spine and expand the chest for free respiration in supine pranayama practice. Until the 20th century, pranayama was always practiced in a sitting position. BKS Iyengar discovered that not all his students could sustain this position easily for long periods of time. Using props, he designed a way for practitioners to practice lying down instead. This allowed students of all body types to practice pranayama with a neutral spine. Placing...

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  • Pranayama: Linking Body and Mind

    Supine Pranayama with Pranayama Pillow and Blanket The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali outline an eight-limbed framework for yoga practice. These limbs, in their written order, include: Yama: Ethical precepts, including non-harming, truthfulness, non-stealing, wise use of sexuality and non-greed Niyama: Daily practices, including cleanliness or simplicity, cultivation of contentment, commitment to practice, study of self and sacred texts, dedication of your practice to something bigger than oneself Asana: Physical postures Pranayama: Refinement of the breath Pratyahara: Releasing attachment to the senses Dharana: Concentration Dhyana: Meditation Samadhi While the limbs are not hierarchical—all of them operate simultaneously to feed into...

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  • Yoga Bolster Love: Enjoy the Ultimate Savasana

    There’s nothing easier than lying down on the floor for Savasana, right? In many cases, the answer is yes. But in some ways, Savasana demands more of us than yoga’s more active asanas. Other asanas can create a fair amount of sensation, making it easy for our minds to focus on the moment. Savasana, on the other hand, with its relative comfort factor, requires a bit more of our minds. Unless, of course, it isn’t actually comfortable. When I’m leading my classes through Savasana, I always stay vigilant of my students’ comfort. Most of the time, most students look pretty...

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  • Yoga Props: Bolsters and Blankets and Blocks, Oh My!

    How to Use Your Yoga Props Blankets and bolsters and blocks, oh my! Wedges and straps and mats, oh my! You’ve probably seen them all, in photos or in your local studio or gym. But what are you supposed to do with them? If you attend an Iyengar, Kripalu, Anusara, Viniyoga or Restorative class, you probably have a good idea how to use at least some of them. Other classes, such as Power, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Vinyasa and Hot Yoga might also employ yoga props here and there. But there are so many choices. That’s why we’ve published our Yoga Prop...

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