The number of people incorporating yoga and meditation into their daily lives is steadfastly growing. These two ancient practices have been around for thousands of years, promoting relaxation and discipline, and bringing the mind and body together as one.
Whilst yoga is more physically active, featuring routines of set poses which have been known to reduce inflammation, increase flexibility, and promote a healthy heart, meditation focuses on stillness, breathing exercises, and the redirection of thoughts to calm the mind and improve concentration.
Yoga and Meditation Benefits
The many mental and physical health benefits of yoga and meditation have been verified by numerous scientific studies over the years. Experts have observed that both wellness activities can reduce cortisol secretion, the so-called “stress hormone”, making these practices a key potential tool in helping to reduce stress, promote relaxation, and lower depression, anxiety, and fatigue levels - all prevalent issues that affect millions of adults every year, in the United States and around the world.
Taking time out of our daily routine to breathe easy and really take care of ourselves should not be seen as a luxury. Even if just for a few minutes each day, prioritizing our physical and mental health is essential.
However, yoga and meditation are not always a walk in the park; we cannot forget that these are physical practices that can come with their own unique challenges.
If you’ve ever tried meditating for an extended period of time, you may well be familiar with that feeling of wriggling around, desperately trying to get comfortable in order to sit still for minutes on end; it can be downright distracting. This is because sitting tall and maintaining the natural curves of our spine, without any support, requires a level of mobility in areas such as our ankles, knees, and hips that many of us simply don’t have.
This is particularly true for those who have grown up in western society, using chairs and tables and barely ever sitting on the floor. Uncomfortable cramps and slumping are, thus, common, making it hard to focus on anything other than when your meditation will be over and you’ll be able to get back up again – not exactly the zen experience we’re aiming for!
Similarly, experiencing aches and pains during a yoga session can be a real downer. For example, Savasana - a classic yoga pose most commonly employed at the very end of a practice, which involves lying down on your back, resting the back of your arms on the floor with palms facing upwards and inhaling and exhaling, feeling the ground beneath you and paying attention to your breath - is an uncomfortable position for many yogis who suffer from back pain, despite it being intended to promote full relaxation.
So, what is the solution?
How can we enhance our yoga and meditation experience in order to increase comfort, maintain motivation to keep up with our practice, reduce pain, and stay focused?
Enter your new yoga and meditation BFFs – the humble bolster pillow and meditation pillow. If you’ve never seen one of these before, this is what they look like:
Take it from us - these pillows have really got your back (sorry, we couldn’t resist!).
Let’s take a closer look at each one, to give you the lowdown on the most comfortable, supportive cushions around.
The Meditation Pillow
Sunday Citizen’s Crystal Meditation Pillow is the perfect combination of soft and sturdy.
A traditional round-shaped cushion filled with durable, natural buckwheat hulls, enhanced by the presence of tiny amethyst and clear quartz pieces for holistic healing, soothing and relaxation, this pillow shifts and follows your movement to custom-fit your body as you get into position and work through your meditation practice.
It is also covered with our signature, buttery soft fabric to ensure maximum comfort, and is machine washable for your convenience.
How to use your Meditation Pillow: Lotus Pose
In a sitting position, such as a simple cross-legged pose or half, quarter, or full Lotus pose, the Sunday Citizen Crystal Meditation Pillow nestles under the hips and lifts them, allowing them to roll slightly forwards, thus supporting the natural curve of your lower back. This aligns your spine and causes the rest of your body to naturally follow suit. Hello, perfect posture!
To get into said lotus position, also known as padmasana, it is best to:
1) Start by properly warming up with some hip-opening movements, to increase your flexibility and avoid any injuries.
2) Then, settle into a cross-legged position before bringing your right ankle up towards your left hip.
How high you are able to bring your ankle up determines whether you sit in quarter or half lotus pose.
Full lotus pose, for more experienced meditators, involves crossing the left ankle over the top of your right shin and having the soles of both feet facing up towards the sky.
How to Use Your Meditation Pillow: Kneeling pose
The second most popular meditation pose is a kneeling pose, whereby, for extra support, we advise propping our meditation pillow between your ankles and sitting back onto it. This has been shown to relieve knee pain by removing some of the pressure exerted on your joints by long periods of kneeling, and also promotes better circulation– after all, numb limbs in the middle of a session are a real vibe kill. You’re welcome!
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The Bolster Pillow
As for our restorative crystal bolster pillow, our unique buckwheat and crystal combination works its magic again, providing firm yet comfortable support during practice with enough flexibility to bounce right back after each use.
This cushion’s flatter, rectangular shape - a more versatile and space-saving variation of the classic cylindrical bolster - is designed to support all areas of the back and is ideal for use not only in floor poses, such as the aforementioned Savasana, but also in sitting postures and shoulder stand variations.
Whilst at Sunday Citizen you know we’re all about what’s on the inside, we have
to admit we’re a little bit obsessed with the calming, neutral color palette of these babies.
Choose between off-white, sahara tan, cloud grey or purple haze tones for that luxurious, soothing feel, designed to enhance your practice from the get-go.
Let’s take a look at some of our favorite go-to yoga positions enhanced by the use of a bolster pillow:
How to Use Your Bolster Pillow
Balasana, or child’s pose - a beloved pose for many yogis, excellent for stretching out the back and muscles around the hips.
Simply kneel on the floor, widen your knees apart, turn the bolster lengthways and tuck it in between your thighs.
You may then lower your torso gently down over the bolster and let your arms drape on either side of it, letting your shoulders rest and turning your head to whichever side feels most comfortable for you.
Breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy that soft stretch and hugging sensation.
How to Use Your Bolster Pillow? Legs up the wall, or Viparita Karani pose.
This fan-favorite “inverted” or rebalancing pose has a ton of health benefits, boosting blood circulation towards the upper body - a welcome relief after so many of us spend the majority of our day standing or sitting!
Known to alleviate headaches, relieve lower back pain, boost energy and even soothe menstrual cramps, Viparita Karani pose is enhanced by placing a bolster pillow under your hips to support your lower back, allowing you to stay in position longer, remain comfortable throughout, and enjoy those benefits to an even greater extent.
How to Use Your Bolster Pillow: Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Reclined bound angle pose; sinking into this pose is bound to give you that “ahh” feeling. Simply sit down on your yoga mat with your bolster pillow positioned behind you, bring the soles of your feet together and allow the knees to drop open.
Then, gently lean backwards until your head and back are resting on the bolster. Lay your arms on the floor by your sides, with palms facing up.
This pose is a great hip opener and allows for a gentle stretch of the back and inner thighs, with the bolster pillow providing continuous support for your head and lower back to remove any tension and avoid injuries.
Not only are these poses great for yoga and meditation, but we encourage you to take a peek at these 10 different types of meditation to see how you can incorporate your meditation pillow to get the most advantage.
Not only do bolster pillow work great for yoga and meditation but you may also use them for napping. Napping with your bolster pillow can give you more energy during your busy day.
That’s all you need to know about Bolster Pillows and Yoga Pillows
And there you have it! Whether you’re getting on the mat at home or tucking your pillow under one arm and bringing it with you to the yoga studio, these two cleverly designed and easily transportable cushions here to help you change your yoga and meditation experience for the better. If you’re looking to improve your posture, avoid physical injuries and find a way to stay focused throughout your practice, without the distraction of physical discomfort or unpleasant sensations, we’d say it’s pretty hard to go wrong with these.
Don’t forget to incorporate a sleep mask, a silky robe, a warm and fuzzy throw or an ever relaxing weighted blanket to your practice as well to get all the benefits of yoga and meditation.