Yogis use pillows extensively when doing restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is a passive, gentle style of yoga where props and gravity do all the work and your muscles let go completely. It’s a good style for all people—as an add-on to a more active practice, for people with mobility limitations, for the folks experiencing a lot of stress and everyone else you can think of. The key in restorative yoga is to use the props to hold your body comfortably in positions it might not be at ease with in free space. Today we’ll look at two examples.
First, imagine sitting on the floor with your legs tucked under you like a low kneeling position. For many of us this is painful on the knees, hips, and tops of the feet and ankles. But this Hero Pose is a really great position for meditation and breathing exercises, plus it’s believed to help reduce high blood pressure, lower leg swelling, and intestinal discomfort. So instead of chucking it out of your routine, use a yoga bolster to make it a more comfortable position to achieve. A yoga bolster is a firm, log-shaped pillow typically about a foot in diameter and 3 feet long.
Start by kneeling on the floor with your knees wide apart. Slide the yoga bolster between your knees so the long side of the bolster is parallel to the long side of the mat. Sit on the bolster and hug your knees, lower legs, and feet inward against the bolster. Adjust your pelvis so your spine finds a neutral position and place your palms down on your thighs. Breathe and enjoy the stillness of this position, supported at a distance from the floor that eases pressure off the lower body.
After you’ve enjoyed Hero Pose, come back into a kneeling position so you can move the bolster over to the left side of the mat. Lie down on your left side with your left leg extended long. Bend your right knee and draw the bolster toward your body so the right knee rests on top. The right arm can drape over the bolster while the left arm can support your head. This is a modified Savasana or ending relaxation pose. But it’s also the #1 recommended way for moms-to-be to sleep in the later months of pregnancy. Sorry dads, no matter how supportive you’re being, we still need a little something extra to bolster us.