Back pain—whether it’s the occasional annoyance or chronic pain—can pop up due to injury or bad habits such as slouching over your desk or phone. A bolster can help by gently lengthening the spine, stretching and strengthen the muscles of the back, and encouraging proper functional alignment. Using a bolster in a slow, soothing restorative yoga practice can be the perfect way to remedy both physical aches and mental tensions that accompany back pain. By letting go and surrendering the weight of the body into the support of your bolster, healing and rejuvenation is possible. Hold each of the following poses between 5 and 10 minutes to recharge completely.
1. Legs Up The Wall
Placing a Rectangular Bolster under your hips and low back during legs up the wall will take pressure out of your hip flexors, and give your low back more space, allowing you to enjoy the restorative benefits of the pose. Rest your heels against the wall and let your hips be heavy supported by your bolster. This gentle stretch provided by elevating the hips will provide relief by bringing space to the lumbar spine.
2. Lumbar Support
Find a comfortable seat against a wall, and place your Mini Cylindrical Bolster at the curve in the lumbar spine. Gently hug the shoulder blades together and set your head and upper back against the wall. This handy little bolster can be used during your yoga practice to sit up tall, lengthening a supported spine at the wall or can be used during the day at your desk or on the couch to achieve the same benefits.
3. Supported Child's Pose
Place your bolster between your knees lengthwise on your mat. Relax your torso along the bolster, coming into child’s pose. Allow your head to turn to one side, switching halfway through. Rest the forearms along the mat on either side of the bolster to establish a grounding sensation. Let the hips sink heavy towards the heels. If the hips need a little additional support here, place one or two folded blankets between the hips and the heels. Placing the bolster under your torso to support your chest in child's pose will lengthen the lower back, helping you find ease and comfort.
4. Heart Opener
Placing a Prana Bolster under the low spine will open through the front of the body, and accentuate the natural curve in the low back. Let the shoulders and the upper back be heavy to the mat, and bring the bolster high enough on the low back that your seat can rest on the ground.
5. Bolster Under Your Knees
Placing your Cylindrical Bolster under your knees in savasana will help relieve lower back pain. Allowing the knees to lift but remain supported will keep the lower back flat to the ground and support the hamstrings. Play around with the position of your bolster—drawing it closer to the hamstrings or towards your calves.
Liv Law is a yoga and pilates teacher in Vancouver offering powerful, all-level classes. Follow her on Instagram @yogi_liv and her website livlawyoga.com!