Archive for September 6th, 2009

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Pair a great upper body stretch with a few minutes of relaxation by using a yoga bolster to stretch every day. Let gravity do the work of opening your chest muscles. Meanwhile, give your back muscles a much needed break from holding you upright all day. AND give yourself an easy way to de-stress, take a few minutes to relax and unwind after a busy day.

Note: Always consult your doctor or health care provider before attempting any new exercises. This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.

Gina Saka, a Chicago-based licensed massage therapist and yoga instructor, shows you how to perform the Yoga Bolster Stretch.

Why Stretch With the Yoga Bolster?
Working on a computer all day is tough on your back and neck muscles. Why is that? Forward leaning work causes us to tighten our pectoral and subscapularius muscles. As these muscles tighten, this can also lead to strain and pains in our upper back and neck muscles.


Pectoral Muscle Diagram from Demand Studios

Notice in the diagram that there are two pectoral muscles: Pec major and pec minor. When you use a keyboard or mouse, you contract these muscles–sometimes for hours. This can cause your shoulders to round. The corresponding muscles in your back and neck have to pull backwards to keep you from falling over. Over time these back and neck muscles can become weak or strained. Painful trigger points can develop. And soon, you have that “Oh my aching neck or shoulder pain” feeling. (Note: We will cover anatomy of pectoral and back muscles in depth in later posts. The more you know about your own body, the more you can keep yourself healthy! )

If you have a job that requires you to sit or lean forward for hours at a time, it’s tough to stretch enough to counteract the stress this puts on your upper back and neck muscles. Like brushing your teeth a few minutes each day (versus once a week for 2 hours), it’s far better to stretch a few minutes each day than just once a week or when you go to the gym!

So Where Do I get a Yoga Bolster?
As versatile as they are for stretching, yoga bolsters are not often available at your local department or even sporting goods store. However, it’s easy to order your yoga bolster from many venders online. You may use either a round or a rectangular bolster for this stretch and for many other relaxing yogic stretches.

Round bolsters should be at least 9″ by 25″.
Square bolsters should be at least 24″ by 12″ by 6″s.
If you are very tall (over 6′-2″), you may want a longer bolder, say 10″ by 29″.

Vendors that sell yoga bolsters at reasonable prices:

YogaAccessories (TM) Round Cotton Yoga Bolster

Yoga Direct Deluxe Round Yoga Bolster

YogaAccessories (TM) Rectangular Cotton Yoga Bolster

YogaAccessories (TM) Deluxe Rectangular Cotton Yoga Bolster

And if you MUST have an organic yoga bolster, try Organic Yoga Bolster – Cotton Round Cushion – Natural Cotton Fill A bit more expensive, but made of organic materials. (Just don’t eat them!)

And for Hemp bolsters, try Natural Fitness Hemp Yoga Bolster

Note: This is not an exhaustive list of all vendors of yoga bolsters. And we do not receive any advertising income from these product recommendations. Feel free to browse your favorite online search services to find the bolster that’s right for you!

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