Hugger Mugger Standard Bolster, $56.66 on Amazon.com
My favorite restorative yoga prop is a bolster - a firm cylindrical or rectangular cushion that is sturdy enough to support your weight without collapsing, yet still soft enough to be comfortable. I drag mine out whenever I am tired or out of sorts and do one of the poses listed below. No matter how bad a day Ive had or how tired I am, spending some quality time with my bolster always makes me feel better. (And my husband also gets a great visual hint that I could use a little TLC.)
To help you prioritize relaxation, consider treating yourself to a bolster. They cost around $40 and will last a lifetime. You dont have to have an official yoga bolster to do these poses you can use rolled up blankets, bed pillows, or couch cushions. But paying for your very own bolster and making space for it in your home shows that you are dedicated to taking care of yourself. It will remind you that you are committed to rest and relaxation as much as you are committed to working, taking an active role in your relationships, and tending to your to-do list. Ill leave you with a quote from Judith Hansen Lassiters great book, Relax & Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times:
"Learning to relax is at the heart of living well. But opening your life to include a regular restorative practice is a challenge. There is finding time in an already busy schedule your mind will protest that youre wasting your time when there is so much else to be done. It is at these moments when it is most important to continue."
How to do it: Lie back so your head and the top 2/3 of your spine are on the bolster. (You can use a smaller pillow or folded blanket to support your head if you life.) Lie here and breathe for as long as you like.
Benefits: This easy pose allows your chest to be broad and your heart to open a gentle remedy to beat the blues, or help you be more compassionate toward someone whos driving you crazy.
How to do it: Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, then bend your knees and swing both feet around to your left side. Place the bolster lengthwise at your right hip, then lay your torso down to rest on the bolster. You can face your head in any direction that feels comfortable. Stay here for several breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Twisting your torso in this way gently massages your internal organs and encourages digestion. Its also refreshing for your spine and back.
How to do it: Sit on your shins on the floor or on your bed. Open your knees wide, place the bolster in between them, and then lie forward so as much of your torso as possible is on the bolster. Either turn your head to one side or bring your forehead to the bolster. If you turn your head, switch to the other side about half-way through your time here. Stay as long as you like.
Benefits: This pose opens your back and quiets your mind. For me, this is the pose to do when I feel like Ive been running around taking care of everyone else and I need a little taking care of myself. Theres something about surrendering into the cushion of the bolster that is wildly comforting.