It was on a video call in May that I spotted myself onscreen and realised what had become of my posture. My shoulders were hunched around my ears, my collar bones had sunk toward my belly button, and I’d given myself a triple chin. When I reflexively sat up straight, I heard a sharp click in my back. It wasn’t a reassuring sound. Curling over a tiny laptop at home, instead of working at the ergonomically sound desk I’d enjoyed at the office, had done a number on my back.
I felt a bit ashamed. As a recently qualified Pilates teacher, I was meant to know how to look after my back. But here I was, looking like Gollum on Zoom and feeling as if my shoulder muscles were made of concrete.
Later that week, lying on my back in my bedroom, trying to stretch out my neck after yet another video call, I thought about the long, loaf-shaped bolster cushions you get in Pilates studios. I missed sinking into one for those luxurious deep stretches at the end of a class. Rolling off my uncushioned mat, I grabbed my phone and started searching for a bolster of my own.
I first clicked on Yoga Studio’s Lightweight Bolster because of the name. Traditional bolsters are filled with uncooked buckwheat hulls, and I’ve lifted enough of them after classes to know how hefty they can get. This model was filled with a mixture of recycled cotton and polyester, making it about half the weight of the buckwheat versions. They come with removable organic cotton colours in jewel shades and elegant neutrals. I chose navy blue, which is both Zen and doesn’t show food stains.
Within 24 hours of it arriving, I’d used my bolster to stretch my back and prop up my laptop, and I’d fallen asleep sprawled out over it in bed. I was happy to discover that the recycled material filling doesn’t have the plastic smell that new pillows sometimes do. Instead, it smells like bedsheets.
Six months on, it’s made resting my back between meetings an extravagantly comfortable habit, and judging by my Zoom thumbnails, my posture’s not as pretzel-like as it used to be. Outside of improving my posture, it’s a multipurpose bit of kit: On the floor it becomes a mini-couch, perfect to sit on while scrolling through my phone. I can shove it under my desk to rest my feet on, kneel on it when I’m doing housework, and it provides enough lumbar support to make me look elegant taking video calls propped up against it in bed.
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