Restorative yoga is a secret jewel in the yoga world, slowly but surely gaining some much-deserved attention. More and more research has come out lately about the relationship between stress and our health. Learning how to release stress could literally save your life. Okay. But how will you ever be able to add another 90-minute yoga practice into your schedule? Good news! You don’t have to go to a restorative yoga class every week to reap the benefits of a restorative practice. Start a regular ritual of doing just one of these poses every night and you’ll be amazed at how much easier the morning is when you already de-stressed before you slept.And sure, having dozens of props available in a group class is nice, but investing in one bolster is more than enough to work some restorative magic. Here are 5 postures using only one bolster (and some bonus options) that will melt your stress away:
This gentle twist releases your lower back and uses compression to massage your abdominal organs. To practice, sit with your right hip against your bolster and your legs to the left. Point the bolster longways in front of you like a runway. Take a deep breath and lift your spine straight up. As you exhale, lay your chest along the bolster, walk your elbows to the sides until your arms relax, turn your head in either direction. Hold for 3–10 minutes and repeat on the other side.
A heart and hip opener that is known as a boon for women’s reproductive health. The benefits of this pose include easier digestion and menstrual cramp relief. To practice, lay your bolster behind you longways. Sit with the back of your seat right in front of the bolster. Take the soles of your feet together and your knees apart. Lay back on your bolster and take your arms as wide as is comfortable (or lay your hands on your belly) Bonus support: Use any pillows or blankets you might have to add extra support under your knees or behind your head if you’d like. Hold for 5–15 minutes.
This is technically more of a Yin Yoga pose (because it is “stretchy”), but for many this is a deeply relaxing posture for the end of a long day. This pose energetically grounds you while stretching the entire back body from heels to neck. To practice, sit with your legs straight in front of you. You can have your legs together or hip distance apart (or a little wider if you like). Place your bolster on top of your legs and fold forward to rest on your bolster. You can try turning the bolster onto it’s narrow side if you feel stiff, or rest your elbows on the bolster and place your head in your hands. If you feel comfortable enough to stay here, you’re doing it right. Hold for 3–7 minutes.
This supported version of the familiar backbend is a great way to release abdominal tension as well as the hip flexors. It also opens the chest and can aid in clearing your respiratory system, including the sinuses. To practice, lay on your back with both knees bent. Press down into your feet, lift your hips up and place your bolster under your hips. If your lower back feels pinched, try adjusting the bolster either closer to your shoulders or closer to your heels. You can take your legs straight, open them up like Goddess Pose, or keep your knees bent and feet on the floor. Hold for 5–15 minutes.
Your favorite pose gets even better with a bolster. Using a prop during Savasana can release your lower back and allow you to relax much more fully. To practice, place your bolster under your knees, you can turn the bolster on it’s side or leave it flat. See what feels best for you. Bonus Support, place folded blankets on your lower belly or under your heels. Hold for 5–20 minutes.Start a regular ritual of doing just one of these poses every night with your trusty bolster. We bet you’ll be amazed at how much easier the morning is when you release your stress each night.Pose photos courtesy of Elizabeth Crisci.
Written by Elizabeth Crisci for Manduka
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