How To Use A Yoga Strap
Yoga is a spiritual practice dating back thousands of years to India’s ancient Vedic religion. It has since evolved into a practice that leaves millions across the globe feeling healthier in mind, body and spirit. Yoga incorporates meditation and a series of movements that increase strength and durability, but did you realize there is a nifty little tool called a yoga strap that can help people of all shapes, sizes and abilities contour their limbs into one of those jaw-dropping poses that are Instagram worthy?
Whether you are a beginner still trying to reach those far away toes, or a seasoned yoga athlete attempting to stretch that back right leg way up in the air, finding the best yoga strap for your body and understanding how to use it correctly can help achieve your goal.
The side stretch is the perfect position to start with when you are first discovering how to use a yoga strap. To achieve this, take the strap into your hands with your arms so that your wrists are in line with your shoulders. Gently sway from side to side as you focus on opening your shoulders. This also can be done in a seated position. When doing side stretches, many do not pay attention to the range of motion in their shoulders and their chest collapses. However, a strap helps counter this mistake.
Seated Forward Bend, Paschimottanasana
Boy, Paschimottanasana sounds like a very big word, but in reality, it is a pose that those of all abilities can perform, and a yoga strap makes it that much easier. In the sitting position, place your legs together and stretch them out before you. Wrap the strap around your feet, while your hands grasp the ends. Straighten your legs, then gently push yourself towards your feet. The yoga belt will help make sure you don’t bend your back while allowing you to stretch a bit further.
Opening the Shoulders
For opening the shoulders, take your strap in your hands, again, about shoulder-width apart. Next, move your arms toward the front of your body and back up again, moving your arms and the strap behind you. The strap becomes useful in this instance by keeping your hands wide and therefore, your shoulders open.
Reclining Leg Stretch
This classic stretch can leave you feeling peaceful and strong. To use your yoga strap in this position, wrap the strap around the bottom of your feet while laying flat on your back. While your elbows remain on the floor, straighten the leg, flex your foot and slowly pull your leg closer to your chest.
Bound Angle Pose
Bound Angle, or Butterfly Pose, is the perfect pose for opening those hips but it can be difficult to maintain a straight back. The best yoga strap for you should be plenty long enough to reach around your legs in this pose. The loop for the yoga strap should be placed under your feet. The strap will not only help with your posture, but it pulls your heels to you, allowing for a deeper stretch. This pose can even be done laying down, which allows your hips to open even more.
Head-to-Knee Pose, Janu Sirsasana
If you are like me, the first time your yoga instructor demonstrated this pose you chuckled to yourself because there was just no way your head was going all the way down to your knee. Believe it or not, it is possible to achieve this pose with the help of a yoga strap. To achieve it, start by sitting and extending your legs in front of you. Next, bend your right leg, placing the foot close to your inner thigh. The strap, looped once again, should be placed on the ball of your other foot. Gently lower yourself toward the knee of your extended leg.
Cow Face Pose, Gomukhasana Arms
While this name makes me giggle, the Cow Face pose is a difficult one, particularly without the help of a yoga belt. In the seated position, your right arm should reach behind your back from the top, while the opposite arm reaches behind your back from the side. Holding the strap with both hands helps you reach that final pose by providing a little extra length. With some practice, your hands should move closer and closer together until you are able to clasp your hands.
Extended Hand to Big Toe
Extended Hand to Big Toe requires strength and balance, and the yoga belt can help you with both. In the standing position, stick your foot into a loop you created in the strap. Next, lift up your knee while keeping the strap in the same hand of the knee you are lifting. Gently straighten out your leg, this time with both hands.
Dancer’s Pose, Natarajasana
Who doesn’t want to feel like a beautiful ballerina, posed with her leg stretched out behind her for miles? I think we would all nod our head in agreement. While this may be difficult to achieve without any help, the yoga strap can get you there. Simply make another loop and place your foot in it. As you hold the strap, bring your hands up with your hands pointing towards the ceiling. Move your hands slowly up the strap to make it shorter.
Half or Full Boat Pose, (Ardha) Navasana
Last but not least, the yoga strap can help you create the Half or Full Boat Pose. In the seated position with your legs out in front, put the strap under the balls of your feet. Make sure to grip the strap in order to help you slowly lift up your legs. For the Half Boat Pose, allow your knees to stay bent, or for the Full Boat, fully extend your legs.
If used correctly, learning how to use a yoga strap can be a useful tool in helping you reach your goals, while providing you with the strength and motion your body needs to get there. The possibilities with a yoga strap are endless, so grab yours today as your head towards advancing your yoga practice.