I think that sometimes props can be confusing and these questions can pop up - How do I use them? Why should I use them? Or - I'm not a beginner, I don't need to use props! Props such as yoga blocks and yoga straps can be great tools for both the beginner and the seasoned yogi. Let me explain how to use a yoga strap.
How to use a yoga strap in seated poses
If you have super tight hamstrings this section goes out to you! I find that often people will stress and strain to catch hold of that elusive toe in a seated forward fold, by using a yoga strap you take the stress out of the shoulders by shorting the distance between the hands and the feet. Tilt the pelvis forwards so that the spine can be long, keep the feet active with the toes pointing towards the sky so that you activate the muscles in the legs, allow the shoulders to relax down away from the ears and keep sending the chest forwards towards the front of the room. Focus on bring the belly down onto the thighs.
How to use a yoga strap in binds
By working towards binds we begin to move deeper into our yoga practice, straps can be super useful for reducing the distance between the hands as shown in the picture above. Gradually over time you will be able to reduce the distance between the hands and the strap as the shoulders, chest and hip increase in flexibility.
How to use a yoga strap for balancing poses
For balancing poses the strap can be used as in the picture above where the flexibility isn't quite there yet. It helps you to get the feeling of the pose without straining towards the hand to foot bind which will slowly come with time and practice. Loop the strap around the foot as shown, keep the spine long and slowly extend the foot out to the front and then out to the side, taking 5-7 breaths at each stage. Keep the leg active by activating the toes.
How to use a yoga strap to increase shoulder mobility
This is one of my favourite exercises to increase shoulder mobility and it can be done daily. Hold the yoga strap between the hands just wider than shoulder distance apart, take 5-7 breathes then lift the hands up towards the sky, if you want to take it further you can lift the hands up and over the head bringing the strap behind the back. Repeat the exercise 5-7 times.
How to use a yoga strap in an arm balance
Arm balances can be tough especially when you are first starting to bring them into your practice. Making sure that you have the correct distance between the arms in crow, downward dog and forearm stand is important. If you find it hard to keep the arms the correct distance then you can use a strap! It also really helps with stability. Loop the strap through the buckle and make a loop about shoulder distance, loop the strap just above the elbows. Then take your time coming into whatever pose you are working on. It might feel a little bit odd at first - but trust me, it helps! I use this tactic all the time when I am learning a new arm balance.
Which yoga strap should I buy?
I really like straps which have a metal d-ring buckle like the one from Yogamatters above, I also like this one from Manduka. I recommend getting a darker colour as white or natural coloured yoga straps can soon get discoloured with, you know, sweat! Also, bright colours are always fun!
Let's chat How do you use a yoga strap in your practice or are you new to props?
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