Differentiating Custom Cushions for Yoga

by Anna Mae

If you are new to yoga, it won’t be long before you realise that some styles of yoga use additional props. Yoga blocks, bricks and cushions are all really helpful for achieving proper alignment for certain poses. Custom yoga cushions can make a real difference to your yoga practice and are used in different situations, including creating a good posture for meditation. You will notice that there is a range of custom cushions for yoga on offer, so let’s have a look at what these are and how they can enhance your practice.

Women doing Yoga

Custom Cushions for Yoga

Iyengar yoga is a style that comes from hatha yoga but makes use of yoga props, such as custom cushions for yoga, in order to achieve good alignment. The props, including cushions, are used to ensure that those practising yoga are not putting themselves at any risk of injury when trying to bend the body into unfamiliar positions. However, using props is certainly not just limited to Iyengar yoga but can be used to support the body in many other styles of yoga, especially if one is recovering from injury or not yet flexible enough to achieve certain positions. Cushions are also useful for more experienced yogis looking to deepen some of the poses as they support the body safely. Custom cushions for yoga can help you create the perfect practice while being representative of your style and personality.

Cushions designed specifically for meditation are round and known as  Zafus cushions. Traditionally, these were always circular doughnut-shaped, but over time, they have evolved and created modern designs in a half-moon crescent shape. They are designed to make sure your hips and spine are correctly aligned while you are meditating. Your hips should be elevated to ensure your spine remains straight.

Cylindrical-shaped cushions are called yoga boosters and tend to have a more solid heavy structure than some of the other cushions on offer. Often a yoga bolster is used in backbend poses, particularly when lying on the floor. They fit neatly into the arch at the bottom of the back to raise the spine. They’re also quite useful if you have any issues laying flat on your back, tucked under the knees to make the position more comfortable. Certain spinal issues do make Savasana and other poses that require you to lay on the floor quite uncomfortable for some people, and a yoga bolster could be an easy fix.

Unsurprisingly, rectangular cushions have regular rectangular shapes and are quite flat and designed to help with some seated yoga poses and things like forward bends. They also offer a good level of cushioning to support a body part if you are recovering from injury.

A pranayama cushion is very long and thin and almost acts as a padded layer between the yoga mat and yourself. This can be very useful for certain poses that require extra cushioning, such as backbends and kneeling poses. It can also help elevate the chest slightly.

Women on Yoga Bolster

What is Inside a Custom Cushion for Yoga?

You will also find custom cushions for yoga have a variety of different fillings. Each changes the malleability and firmness of the customer cushion, so it largely depends on why you want it.

  • Buckwheat Hulls: buckwheat hulls which are sometimes referred to as buckwheat husks have the advantage of being organic as they are shells of buckwheat, which would otherwise be discarded. They are similar to beanbag chairs but slightly firmer and heavier. If they are tightly packed, the buckwheat bolster will be very firm and heavy, but you can remove some of the husks to create a softer cushion if you prefer.
  • Kapok: kapok is a popular stuffing material and is a natural fibre. It’s useful for things like custom cushions for yoga because it is naturally antifungal and antimicrobial. It is a durable and strong material that helps cushions maintain their shape even with regular use. It will not dent or squash over time, making it a good choice for many different styles of yoga requiring bolster or cushion support.
  • Wool: wool is another sustainable stuffing solution. One of the advantages of wool is that it naturally insulates and stays warm. It creates a soft cushion that will be very comfortable, making it perfect for meditation.
  • Polyester: polyester is a man-made fibre that is often used in stuffing cushions, pillows and soft toys. It is cheap and easy to obtain, which is why it is popular, but from a yoga point of view, it is not the best stuffing as it has no environmentally friendly properties and is not in any way natural.

The Outside of a Custom Cushion for Yoga

Generally, the outside of a custom cushion for yoga is made of cotton, and this is the best choice. It is machine washable, unlike other fabrics, such as silk or brocade, meaning that if any staining or dirt does occur, it can be safely washed. Generally, they will have a zipped cover that can be removed for just this purpose. Some cushions are made of other materials and can only be dry-cleaned. Hemp is also becoming a popular material for covering a yoga cushion, and of course, this, too, is very sustainable and friendly to the environment. We recommend looking out for cushions with removal covers, so that these can be easily washed. You could also purchase replacement covers if you fancy a change of colour, or the original is looking a little worn.

Any exercise, including yoga, can cause sweating, so you need to make sure that you can clean your custom cushion for yoga when needed. The bigger cushions generally come with a carrying strap which is brilliant for transporting it to and from yoga classes. Otherwise, they can be quite unwieldy and heavy to move. Of course, some people prefer a yoga bag for all of their yoga props, but this is entirely a personal decision.

The Takeaway

Custom cushions for yoga have a myriad of positive uses in many different styles, including restorative yoga. They are also perfect for yin yoga, pre-birth yoga and healing yoga. Much like your yoga mat, a yoga cushion will soon become very personal to you, and it’s not really something people like to share, so having your own is the best idea.

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