Bolsters are great for assisting the opening of the chest, forward bends and postures where the legs are raised. They also help with breathing exercises and the prevention of strain from overstretching.
They are available with a range of patterns and designs on them - gold trim bolster are particularly stylish. Among the colours available to choose from are blue, black, white, red, orange, green, pink, yellow, burgundy, plum, beige and brown.
Bolsters can be filled with a variety of materials including wool and buckwheat hulls. These yoga props can be particularly beneficial for beginners who are still building up their muscle strength and flexibility.
The first few weeks on any new yoga routine can be physically demanding when muscles not often used - such as the powerhouse muscles - are pushed to their limit.
During this time, having a yoga bolster to hand can really help you gain the experience and muscle tone you need, without the risking injury to your body.
A yoga bolster can play role in reducing the risk of injury, just like a yoga mat. They are often provided to assist students at yoga groups in health clubs and gyms. Many people also have one at home for their daily sessions.
Many people opt for a spherical-shaped bolster, but some beginners prefer a rectangular-shaped prop as there is less risk of slipping or rolling. A round bolster has the potential to roll away if the user is not very experienced.
If you are working with more advanced poses, and so have more experience in distributing your weight, you might prefer a rounded bolster. Choosing a yoga bolster is fairly straightforward - it's just a case of buying one you like the look of which is made for decent quality materials.
A bolster can greatly reduce the amount of strain on certain parts of the body due to its thick padded cushion-like shape - they are very comfortable props for the final part of a session, when you sit and focus on your breathing and energy.
Bolsters rarely have inner material that can be easily washed, so it's worth buying one that comes with a removable cover that be either hand-washed or cleaned in a washing machine and then placed in a tumble dryer.
There are many positions and postures where a bolster is the ideal accessory to help you unwind and relax after a demanding yoga session. A carefully positioned bolster can really aid rejuvenation, relaxation and a state of peacefulness.
The classic Savasana position is a great example of where a bolster really comes into its own. The Savasana allows you to find total stillness and calm, enabling you to completely relax your body and mind. The bolster should be carefully positioned directly below your knees and you should lean back, with arms stretched out on your yoga mat and relax your muscles.
Forward folds are another great way to use a bolster. You should sit on your mat and stretch both legs out in front of you, with you bolster positioned on top of your legs. Then lean your chest forward onto the bolster and rest your head comfortably on it for a few minutes. This is a wonderful way to stretch you spine, lower back and hamstrings.
Yet another pose where a bolster plays a key role is the supported Sukhasana. In this instance, the bolster helps you to sit cross-legged in comfort and is particularly beneficial to anyone who sits for long periods at a desk or doesn't do enough stretching in daily life. You should sit on top of your bolster, with your pelvis tilted forward and your knees resting on the floor.