Using a Bolster Pillow During Meditation & Yoga

Using a Bolster Pillow During Meditation & Yoga

About Our Bolster Pillows

Meditation pillows come in many shapes and sizes and each style is intended to play a unique role in improving your meditation and yoga practices. When we are letting our minds and bodies drift into this relaxed state, it is vital that we feel fully physically comfortable. If we are experiencing pain due to insufficient support or cushioning while attempting to meditate or perform yoga, it distracts the mind and prevents us from accomplishing the goal of these practices in the first place.

DharmaCrafts’ meditation bolster cushions are versatile meditation pillows that add comfort and support during a multitude of yoga poses and meditation positions. Whether you consider yourself a seasoned yogi or meditator, or are just looking to learn some basic yoga for beginners, our meditation bolster pillows are sure to become a staple along your journey.

The DharmaCrafts meditation bolster comes in two shapes: rectangular bolster cushion or round bolster cushion. Both styles of meditation pillow serve similar purposes during your practices, but each shape is specialized for a slightly different use. Both shapes of bolster pillows can be stacked, sat on, layed on, and stood on their ends for deep stretching and support in various yoga and meditation poses. The biggest difference is that the rectangular bolster pillow features a flattened shape that is better suited for sitting than the round cylinder pillow- similar to how a zafu meditation cushion is used, while the round bolster is the best meditation bolster for general cushioning.

All of our meditation bolsters are handmade using high-quality fabrics that are crafted into a snug-fitting zippered cover. The inside is composed of a muslin cover stuffed with organic cotton batting. We have also introduced a new buckwheat hull fill option for all of our bolster cushions.

Yoga Bolster Pillow Poses

  • Supported Belly Down Twist
  • To perform the supported belly down twist yoga pose, begin by laying your yoga bolster down the middle of a zabuton cushion or yoga mat. Lay your body in a prone position (face down) down the length of the bolster pillow so your chest, head, and torso are supported by the bolster. Twist your pelvis to one side so your lower body is resting on one hip with knees bent to the side. Your pelvis should be resting only on the mat and not the bolster.

    Let your forearms rest flat on the mat so your elbows are at a 90 degree angle. Hold for a couple of minutes, then twist so you are resting on the opposite hip. This asana (pose) is excellent for stretching the muscles in the back and relieving tension in the lower body.

    Woman doing supported belly down twist on zabuton and bolster cushion

  • Hero Pose - Virasana
  • The hero pose, or Virasana, is a relatively easy asana that is excellent for beginner meditation or those who are just starting yoga. It can be used to stretch and strengthen the legs, improve posture, and aid in mindful breathing exercises.

    Simply lay a zabuton or yoga mat down with your bolster pillow centered on top. Straddle the bolster cushion so your knees rest on either side of the cylindrical pillow. Be sure to keep your spine straight while performing the hero yoga pose.

    Let your hands rest either on your thighs or on the bolster pillow in front of you. You can also stack multiple bolster cushions for increased support in this position (as pictured below).

    Woman sitting on 3 bolster pillows in hero yoga pose

  • Fish Pose - Matsyasana
  • While the fish pose (Matsyasana) may look a little complicated, it is a relatively straightforward yoga asana to practice so long as you have decent flexibility in your neck and spine. Begin by placing your bolster pillow in the center or toward the top of your zabuton pillow or yoga mat. Lay in a supine position (on the back) so that the bolster pillow is directly aligned with the spine (vertical), or so it runs laterally under the shoulderblades. Laying the bolster along the spine offers more support to the neck and lower back, so be sure to try both variations to see which works best for you!

    Once your body is positioned, take a deep breath and arch your neck and back so that the top of your head rests on the mat/ bolster and your chest is up in the air. Be sure to keep your hips flat on the mat during this pose. As pictured, another bolster pillow can be added under the knees for additional support. If preferred, the fish pose can also be performed with the legs crossed.

    Let your arms stretch to the sides (like in the photo below), place them at your sides, or use them to hold your feet if sitting cross-legged. The fish yoga pose provides a deep stretch for the upper back and neck, opens the chest cavity, and helps to promote digestion.

    WOman doing fish pose on zabuton mat with multiple bolster cushions


    Using a Bolster Pillow to Meditate

    While performing any of the 4 traditional seated meditation poses- the full lotus (Padmasana), half lotus (Ardha Padmasana), Burmese (Siddhasana), or seiza- a bolster cushion can help add comfort. Use the bolster to sit on like a zafu pillow by placing it between the legs or use it horizontally like you would a meditation bench. Simply position yourself comfortably on a bolster cushion in a meditative pose and play one of our meditation scripts, then let your mind drift to a place of ease and deep focus.

    The meditation bolster pillow is an integral element to any yogi or meditator’s collection of meditation accessories. Over time, you will come to find many more uses for this adaptable meditation cushion outside of what was mentioned above- the possibilities are endless once you add one of our bolster cushions to your meditation space. Be sure to explore our many other blog posts to learn more meditation steps for beginners, how to choose a meditation cushion, and for regular teachings by Koun Franz, a Montana-born Soto Zen priest.


    Pictured: Theodore Stripe Bolster & Theodore Stripe Zafu Zabuton Set.

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