Yoga straps, also known as yoga belts, are a common and essential prop in yoga classes. These straps serve as an extension of your arms, providing support and helping to deepen stretches and improve flexibility. The yoga straps usually come with plastic or metal buckles, the choice is simply a matter of personal preference.
When purchasing a yoga strap, it’s important to consider the length. Yoga straps typically come in 6-foot (182 cm), 8-foot (243 cm), or 10-foot (304 cm) lengths, and the middle length is considered the most versatile. However, the length you choose will also depend on your height.
If you don’t have a yoga strap, you can use a scarf, necktie, belt, or similar item. It’s crucial to ensure that the material you use is not stretchy, as yoga straps are not elastic like resistance bands commonly used in fitness classes.
In this blog post, we will explore 11 ways to use a yoga strap in your yoga practice. Get ready to deepen your stretches and take your flexibility to the next level!
Introducing Yoga Straps: The Versatile Prop for Improving Flexibility
1. Extended Hand To Big Toe
The Extended Hand to Big Toe pose is a yoga pose that strengthens and stretches the legs and hips. It can be difficult for some people to reach their big toe, especially if they have tight hamstrings. In such cases, using a yoga strap can help to modify the pose and still receive the full benefits of the stretch. To perform the pose, start by looping a strap around your foot and holding the other end of the strap. Keep a slightly bent leg and slowly straighten the leg while pulling the strap, shortening the length as needed. You can use a wall to help you find balance while performing the pose.
2. Full Dancer Pose
The Dancer Pose is an advanced standing backbend yoga pose that improves balance and strengthens the legs, hips, and back. To perform the pose, loop a strap around one foot and hold the other end of the strap with both hands over the shoulder. Slowly press your foot back and up into the strap as you raise your arms and walk your hands down the strap, shortening the distance between your hands and foot as much as you need. Keep lifting the chest and kicking the foot into the strap for a deep stretch.
3. Cow Face Arms
Cow Face Arms is a yoga pose that stretches the shoulders, upper back, and triceps. People with tight shoulders often find it difficult to clasp their hands behind their back, but using a yoga strap can help modify the pose and still receive all the benefits of the stretch. To perform the pose, hold onto the strap with both hands and shorten the grip as you progress.
4. Shoulder flossing
Shoulder flossing is one of my favourite ways to relieve tension and stretch the shoulders, chest, and upper back. This stretch can be performed anytime, not just during yoga practice. You can keep a strap on your work desk and stretch their shoulders during breaks. To perform the stretch, begin by sitting or standing with a neutral spine and hold a strap above your head with both hands wider than your shoulders. Bring the arms back and down, then up again, slowing down on the difficult spot. You can adjust the grip as narrow as needed to feel the stretch in the shoulders and chest.
5. Seated Forward Bend
The Seated Forward Bend is a yoga pose that stretches the back of the legs, spine, and hips. To perform the pose, hold the ends of the strap with both hands and place the strap around your feet. Keeping the spine long, gently pull yourself forward until you feel the stretch on the back of the legs.
6. Head To Knee Pose
This pose is similar to the Seated Forward Bend and can be performed in the same way by using a yoga strap: use a strap around the foot and pull yourself forward.
7. Reclined Hand To Big Toe Pose
The Reclined Hand to Big Toe Pose is a variation of the Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose that is performed while lying down. To perform the pose, loop a strap around your foot and gently pull the leg closer to you to deepen the stretch. This pose is a great way to stretch the hamstrings and lower back, and is especially beneficial for people who struggle with tight hamstrings.
8. Boat Pose
The Boat Pose is a yoga pose that strengthens the core, back, and legs. It can be challenging for people with weak cores to keep their spines long while performing the pose. And for people with tight hamstrings, straightening the legs can be hard. For this boat pose variation with a strap, place your strap around the feet as you hold it with both hands. Slowly lean back and lift the feet of the floor, find balance on your sit bones. Knees can stay bend, and as you progress, try to straighten the legs.
9. King Pigeon Pose
King pigeon is an advanced backbend that can be made more accessible with a yoga strap. Begin in Pigeon pose, and similar to the Dancer pose above, loop a strap around one foot and hold the other end of the strap with both hands above the head. Press the foot back into the strap, lift your chest and shorten the distance between your hands and foot as much as you need.
10. Reclined Pigeon Pose/ Figure 4 Stretch
Reclined pigeon pose is a gentle variation of pigeon pose that is a great for people who experience knee pain in classic pigeon pose. Cross one ankle above the opposite knee and try to clasp your hand behind the thigh. If it doesn’t work, use a yoga strap as extension of your arms and pull the legs closer towards your chest.
11. Bound Poses
Yoga strap can also work as extension of the arms in bound poses. Finding a bind can be a matter of flexibility or individual anatomy, so if you unable to clasp your hands behind, simply use a strap to experience the bind.
In conclusion, yoga straps are a versatile and useful tool for practicing yoga. They can help deepen stretches, support proper alignment, and increase stability in poses. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced practitioner, incorporating a yoga strap into your practice can bring new challenges and benefits to your yoga experience. So, give it a try and see how it can enhance your practice and take your yoga to the next level.