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Bolster Baby

My beautiful sister and happy nephew Leo

Being trained as a restorative yoga teacher, I adore bolsters! I have two bolsters at home and we have three different sizes and a total of 48 of them at the studio. They are such an amazing tool in facilitating healing; on a physiological level when I use bolsters in restorative yoga I activate the low tone of my parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Mentally and emotionally they have helped me to feel supported, cradled and held. This allows my body to unwind, my mind to follow, and gives me the ability to nurture myself.

I recently have a new nephew – “swoon!” Last summer I saw my sister nesting and getting ready for baby. A big part of this for her was de-cluttering her existing belongings and becoming more minimal. This really got me thinking about all the baby stuff one can accumulate and making mindful purchases that may have other uses.

I had an idea one evening: what if new mamas used a bolster instead of a nursing/feeding pillow? It has multiple uses by also providing them with their own opportunities for self-care and rest and it can grow with them as their baby becomes a tot. I ran the idea by my resident baby expert, Mama & Baby, Parent/Tot, mama herself, yoga teacher Laurie Basaraba who replied “brilliant idea!”

My beautiful sister Trina, who is rocking motherhood by the way, and my sweet and happy baby nephew Leo came to the studio for a little photo shoot of a bolster in use. (You're welcome visual learners!)

Feeding/Nursing Pillow

Firstly, whether baby is breast or bottle fed the bolster can be a feeding pillow. Holding baby to feed is hard work, mamas' energy may be low from their own healing and need some support. The bolster is quite firm and can bring baby up to your body without having to do the work of holding. The bolster is helping mamas prop baby up. The cover is machine washable but you may want to use a blanket to protect it in case!

Chest Opening Pose


Mamas do a lot of hunching over babies due to holding, changing, feeding, and they may be heavier in their chest due to extra breast weight carried to facilitate nursing. That can cause a sore neck, shoulders, and just a feeling of hunching over all the time. Laurie does this pose often in Mama & Baby Yoga (it actually feels so delicious for everyone because we generally do a lot of hunching over our devices, steering wheels, etc.)! Being in the back bend pose family this pose can also be energizing.

To Do The Pose:

Place the bolster on the center of the mat behind you, the short side of the bolster can line up with the short edge of your mat. If you have any disk issues in your low back you will want to have the bolster right up against your sacrum. If your low back is healthy then you can leave about 2-3 inches from your low back.

With bent knees lower yourself down lining up the center of your spine with the center of the bolster.

Bring arms at your sides with palms facing up, draw your shoulder blades under and bring a slight tuck to your chin. Your legs can be in three different positions: knees slightly bent with feet toward the outside edges of the mat and knees drop in toward one another, soles of feet together and knees bent and out, or legs stretched out straight. If your hands don’t reach the floor you can bring yoga blocks, books, or blankets under them.

Some options to sneak this pose in:

Do the pose with baby on a blanket beside you.

Baby can have tummy time when you are in the pose.

Do the pose with baby sitting between your legs and playing with toys.

I just want to kiss those cheeks!

Elevated Chest Pose

This pose is good for stress, let’s be honest that sometimes being a new mom can be overwhelming. It is a big life transition, often times there is a lack of sleep, sometimes lack of support due to our cultural approach to postpartum, and some mamas may suffer from postpartum anxiety or depression. Your body is healing from delivery and restorative yoga is a healing practice; it is an excellent antidote!

To Do The Pose:

Use two yoga blocks to prop up your bolster at a 30 degree angle toward the back of the mat. If you don’t have blocks you can use books or anything really that is firm. You can also use the back of a chair flipped upside down with the bolster resting on it. Put a folded blanket at the top of the bolster.

In this pose you want to makes sure your low back is snug to the bolster. Hold it with two hands and walk your sitting bones back with a slight tilt to your pelvis. Lower down and arrange the blanket so it supports your head and your chin can tuck. You may also want to place rolled up blankets behind your knees and ankles making the knees twice as high as the ankles. If you are doing the pose without baby you can “burrito” your arms by wrapping a blanket over the front and tucking it underneath them.

Some options to sneak this pose in:

Do the pose with baby on a blanket beside you.

Baby can have tummy time when you are in the pose.

Baby rests on your chest either face up or down. Babies love the sound of their mama’s heartbeats. (caution: do not do this when you are exhausted so that you don't fall asleep and baby potentially falls)

Play airplane with baby while in the pose.


Using Your Bolster as Seat

As baby grows into a tot and starts cruising it is nice for mamas to be at eye level with them and near the ground where they are. This assists them in developing a strong attachment which facilitates healthy development. Sometimes though sitting on the floor for short or long periods of time can be hard on the hips. Sitting on the bolster can help to alleviate some tension in the hips from sitting on the floor.

We should all be using less furniture; with age our body adapts to the loads we place on them and if we don’t regularly sit on the floor our body will lose the ability and make it difficult or impossible to get up and down from the floor. Read more about furniture free living here:

Look at his little bum chin!

To Do The Pose:

Sit tall, lengthening your spine with a neutral pelvis and legs crossed. Draw your shoulder blades back and down and have a slight tuck to your chin. You can support your knees with yoga blocks or books or anything in your house. If you have ankle issues you can wrap a soft blanket around them for support. You can also straddle the bolster with your legs. It is good to vary your position as this increases the loads on your body and adds more movement to your life.

Why & How: Rest & Restorative Yoga

We glorify busy, doing and being more; the world is speeding up. No one really teaches us how to downshift, slow down, or relax and in fact it can be looked down upon. In other cultures the first 40 days postpartum is spent resting and bonding with baby while the women in their families/support system take care of all the household needs and feeding mama healthy, nourishing food to assist with healing.

When running smoothly our bodies have natural cycles of activity and rest called "ultradian rhythms." We can be active for 90 to 120 minutes then we need to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. If we ignore these rhythms we may feel exhausted and feel the need for caffeine or we borrow from our reserves of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. We heal when resting therefore it is so important for new mamas!

We have Mama & Baby and Parent/Tot yoga classes where you may be using a bolster while being with your little person. You may also want to try out our restorative yoga class, Restore & More on Wednesday evenings from 5:45 – 7:00 pm to get further direction on using bolsters to rest and to activate the relaxation response.

The bolsters we have for use in our classes and for sale in our boutique are all handcrafted and from a Canadian company called Halfmoon. They are very durable, we have had ours since opening almost 3 years ago. A bolster will not only last but it will be something you WANT to keep when baby is eating table food and beyond! Tell us: have you used a bolster? What is your favorite pose using a bolster?

#healing #restorativeyoga #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealth #babies #postpartum #mamababyyoga #parenttotyoga #bolsters #yogaprops #motherhood #nervoussystem #furniturefreeliving

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