A yoga bolster is a long, heavy pillow used for support in yoga and meditation. Bolsters are often used for slower styles of yoga such as restorative, yin yoga, prenatal or iyengar-based yoga. However, bolsters can aid any kind of yoga practice, especially if you find certain poses uncomfortable.
Bolsters support your body so that your muscles can passively regenerate, allowing you to engage fully into a pose and relax during a stretch. That’s why yoga instructors frequently encourage adding bolsters into your practice. They provide an extra layer of padding between the body and the floor.
Tight hips during child pose? Try placing a bolster under the knees. Or to release tension along the spine and across the shoulders, try lying back on a bolster lengthways for a wonderful but gentle back opening. Bliss!
A great thing about yoga bolsters is that you can easily make your own from natural and sustainable materials.
For this DIY bolster, we have used natural materials that are biodegradable. This option uses organic cotton for the inner and outer, and buckwheat husk for the filling. You can choose to stitch the bag closed instead of using a zipper. The top can be easily unstitched when you need to replace the filling.
This is a useful, cheap way to make studio quality bolsters yourself. You can also customise it to your own body and practice.
An eco-friendly yoga bolster is not only better for the environment, but also for our skin and body. You can even make your own bolster by stuffing an old pair of trousers, or sewing together rolled up towels.
In this article, we’ll show you how you can make your own bolster with organic cotton and buckwheat husk. The best thing about this bolster is that cotton and buckwheat are environmentally friendly, so you don’t have to worry about it ending up in landfill.
To make a bolster of your own you will need:
Fabric (we use 100% certified organic cotton)
Fabric pencil (or some kind of pencil/pen/marker)
Ruler or tape measure
A sewing machine (optional)
Organic buckwheat hulls for stuffing. Firm is better for a yoga bolster so you will need around 4kg (you may need more as buckwheat can vary in appearance, density and weight)
Measure and mark with a fabric pencil three rectangles in the following dimensions:
1 x Bolster body: 92 cm x 66 cm
2 x Bolster ends: 32 cm x 17 cm
Cut out your pattern pieces
Pro tip: Use a 1 cm seam allowance.
The large rectangle becomes the body and the two smaller rectangles will be the ends of the bolster.
Fold the large rectangle in half lengthways. Pin along the edges and install the zipper.
Open the right-sides of the seam, and iron flat. If using a zipper, place face down across the length of the material.
Pin the upper edge of the zipper to the upper edge of the fabric and sew in place using a zipper-foot on your machine (try to get as close to the zipper teeth with your seam as you can). If you don’t have a sewing machine you can do this step manually.
Pin the bottom edge of the zipper to the bottom edge of the seam and sew in place. Zig-zag the edges of the zipper to the edges of the fabric for extra strength. Push the zipper-head down so that it sits about 3 cm away from the edge of the fabric. Secure the ends of the zipper about 1 cm away from the edge of the fabric by sewing over it a couple of times. Trim off the zipper excess.
Attach the bolster ends to your bolster base and pin around the edges. Sew one end of the bolster closed. Repeat for the other bolster end but remember to leave a 10 cm opening for stuffing. Turn your bolster right side out through the opening so that you have a full tube ready for stuffing.
Start stuffing the bolster with the buckwheat. It helps to pack it in nice and tight so that the filling is even and firm, and not too lumpy.
Keep stuffing until you get about 10 cm from the top. Sew closed the hole in the bolster, or gather the remaining fabric and tie a double knot with a piece of string or shoelace.
Fluff and smooth the pillow until you are satisfied with the shape. The yoga bolster should be snug, but you shouldn't have to struggle to do up the zipper.
Firm is better for bolsters, but if you find your bolster is too firm remove some filling to make it softer.
And there you have it. Your very own earth friendly yoga bolster to enjoy at your next yoga session.
Unhulled buckwheat has a shelf life of around 12 months. To extend the life of your bolster, replace the filling with fresh buckwheat every year. You can dispose of the buckwheat in the compost or bin. The outer cotton bag is machine washable, just make sure it’s completely dry before refilling again.
Bonus: Bolsters make thoughtful handmade gifts. Even if your friends and family aren’t into yoga, they can be used as cushions, or even draught stoppers!
We want to know…
Do you use props in your yoga practice? Check out our blog on how to use yoga blocks for a better practice.
Also don’t forget to clean your cork yoga mat with these simple steps.