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Lourdes

YOGA STRAP

If you have a yoga strap lying unused, you might be surprised to discover the ways in which it can benefit your practice. If you don’t have a yoga strap and feel that you could benefit from some support, it is probably time to get yourself one. The obvious question now is how to use a yoga strap. 

Before we get to the how, let us look at the why

Why should you use a yoga strap?

A yoga strap is not just a prop. Using a yoga strap can be therapeutic in many cases. It is a great asset to achieve a wider range of motion, go deeper into a stretch, and prevent injury.  

Straps are particularly useful if there are parts of your body that feel tight. They help open the body to the stretch. Another benefit of using a yoga strap is to find more balance in a posture. It also enables staying longer at a certain place in a pose. 

If you look at how a yoga strap works, it is mostly used as an extension of your limbs, specifically your arms. It is immensely helpful for those of us with shorter arms. Also, if there are body parts that are not as flexible so they can make contact with the hands, using a yoga strap is often the best option. 

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A strap can help you to achieve the perfect pose alignment.

How to use a yoga strap 

We now get to how you can integrate a yoga strap into your practice and the kind of postures it benefits. 

1. In seated forward folds 

If you are doing a seated forward fold and your hamstrings are tight, there are chances that the back will round. 

Using a yoga strap in a seated forward fold can help stretch the tight hamstrings as well as the inner thighs. And, it also prevents the back from rounding. 

To use the yoga strap in these poses, place the middle of the strap around the balls of the feet. Hold the ends of the strap with both your hands and slowly straighten your legs. If you are getting in a posture where the back needs to bend, gently pull yourself forward, being mindful that you are not rounding your back. 

   

Some examples of seated forward folds that benefit from using a yoga strap are Seated forward bend or Paschimottanasana, Head-to-Knee Pose or Janu Sirsasana, and Seated staff pose or Dandasana. A strap is also helpful for wide-legged forward folds. 

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You don’t have to go far, just so that you can feel a stretch in your hamstrings.

2. In hand-to-toe poses 

Whether it is a standing or reclining hand to big toe pose, using a yoga belt helps in achieving the opening of the hips. It also helps in finding a deeper stretch in the hamstrings.

A yoga strap in these poses adds length to the arms. Hence, it prevents the back from rounding and makes it easier to find balance. 

To use the yoga strap, make a loop with the strap and place one foot into that loop. You can start straightening the leg and take the help of both hands to hold the strap. Once you get comfortable, release one hand and allow it to rest on the waist or by your side. 

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A strap in these poses adds length to your arms.

3. In poses that open the shoulders 

Our shoulders are the parts in the body that most easily accumulate and hold stress and tension. Yoga is a great way to release tension from the shoulders. 

A yoga strap can help overcome the limitation of tight shoulders in poses that need the shoulders to be loose. It also helps prevent any strain in the neck

For a quick release of tension from the shoulders, hold a strap in both your hands and take it over your head. Make the hands wider than the shoulders. Slowly and gently, move the arms up and down. Repeat a few times.  

You can repeat this same use of a strap in poses with side stretches. The strap keeps the shoulders open and you can bend into the side stretch, opening and expanding your ribs. 

Another pose that benefits from a yoga strap is Cow Face Pose or Gomukhasana. You can hold the strap with both your hands and gently stretch into the final place in your pose. If there has been any injury in the shoulders, using a strap will help you achieve the stretch without putting a strain on that area.  

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Engage your core, elongate your spine, root down through your seat and then stretch over to one side.

4. In restorative poses

Poses that are restorative in nature benefit greatly from the use of a strap. A strap provides the support that is needed to hold these poses for a longer time while maintaining control.

In a pose like Reclined Bound Angle or Baddha Konasana (Cobblers Pose), there is work that happens on the hips and inner thighs. By using a strap, it becomes possible to open the hips and stretch the inner thighs. The strap also provides additional support in this pose. 

To use the strap in this pose, loop it around the sacrum and underneath the feet. By loosening or tightening the strap, you can control the distance of the feet from your body. Begin to release your weight into the scrap. You will continue to move deeper into the pose as gravity pulls you more and more towards the floor.  Stay here for as long as it feels good. 

In a restorative happy baby pose or Ananda Balasana, a yoga strap can be used to open the thighs and stretch the hamstrings. How to use a yoga strap here? Simply loop one end of the strap around each foot and hold it with your hands on either side. This will enable straightening the legs and releasing tension from the hips. 

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This pose is the beginning of Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s pose).

5. In supine twists

Twists can feel difficult if there is tightness in the body. Using a strap in these poses can help release the hips and engage the core

Lying on your back, raise one leg vertically, coming into a leg stretch. Place the middle of your strap around the ball of the foot. Hold it with both hands. From that position, shift that leg out to the side. Release the opposite hand and stretch it out on its side. 

This is a delicious stretch for the quads, hamstrings, and hips. Just make sure that the hip of the leg that is on the mat is down. 

After spending some time in this position, you can take the outstretched leg and bring it to the opposite side for a twist. You will feel your back releasing. 

The same use of strap can be applied to the Abdominal Twist pose or Jathara Parivartanasana. 

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This pose opens the outer hips, quads, hamstrings, upper and lower back, and shoulders.

6. In standing balance poses 

In poses that require balance and stability, a strap provides additional support. You can be on one foot while the other is suspended with a strap.

A great balancing pose for which you can take the help of a yoga strap is Dancer pose or Natarajasana. Make a small loop from one end of the strap and place your foot in it. Hold the other end of the strap with both hands and keep bringing the hands up, raising your foot. Raise your chest with your elbows pointing towards the ceiling. You can work with the distance between the hands and the foot by walking your hands along the strap.  

As we discussed above, you can also take the support of a yoga strap for finding balance in the extended hand to big toe pose. Another balancing pose that can benefit from a yoga strap is Tree pose or Vrksasana, especially if there is any pain in the knees. 

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With this pose you can practice your stability on one foot while suspending your leg in a strap.

7. In poses that need core strength 

In poses where one needs core strength to come into and stay in the posture, a strap can provide that aid for strength along with the balance

One such pose is Boat pose or Navasana. In this pose, the back is straight, legs are lifted and straight, and arms are by the sides of the legs. If you find it difficult to stay in this pose because of a lack of core strength, a pro tip is to use a yoga strap. 

A yoga strap will provide some balance while you can still work on your core strength. It will also ensure that your back is straight

To use a strap in this pose, place the center of your strap under the balls of the feet. Hold the ends of the strap with both hands. Lift your legs slowly, keeping your back straight. You can either keep the legs bent or straight.

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Using an extra-long belt, place it behind your chest (near the armpits) and up and around your feet.

Closing thoughts

There are many ways in which a yoga strap can be used. Once you become familiar with how to use a yoga strap, you will be able to bring it and integrate it into your practice. You will also be able to devise newer ways of using it, depending on the areas where you need support, and if you are looking for one to buy, here is the one we recommend.

If there are ways in which you use this versatile tool, please share them with us in the comments below. And if there are people you have around you who could benefit from learning how to use a yoga strap, please share this article with them. 

Lourdes

Co-founder of MB Zen, digital nomad and yogini. Trying to beat down stress and achieve peace of mind through the daily practice of Yoga. After a while in yoga, I embraced it wholy, and it changed my lifestyle upside down. Now I want to give back , helping others on their journey.