Yoga straps: why and how you should use them
Yoga straps, although not absolutely necessary to do yoga, can be a great plus if you integrate them into your routine. They can help you reach difficult postures, and they will help in the long run to increase your flexibility. They can even be used to strengthen your muscles, too.
Anyone can benefit from yoga belts whether they are super flexible or not. The great thing about them is that they will make postures accessible to everyone. It’s important, however, to avoid pushing yourself too much. Don’t force postures! It’s with time and practice you’ll be able to do them.
If you are feeling a bit insecure about trying yoga straps on your own, there are, of course, video tutorials on the topic! You can also take a look at these yoga poses.
Forward Folds, Paschimottanasana
This first pose will be good for your hamstrings and back. It requires placing the middle of the strap on the ball of your feet. While straightening the legs, hold the ends of the strap with your hands and gently pull yourself forward. Keep your legs active at the same time to allow your hamstrings to relax and stretch. Be careful not to round your back!
Cow Face Pose, Gomukhasana Arms
This one is perfect if your shoulders are tight. Simply hold on the yoga belt with both hands to stretch your way into the final pose. With time and practice, you’ll be able to clasp your hands on your own.
Boat Pose, Navasana
There are a few ways to do this one. First, you could do as shown above. Place your straps again under the balls of your feet but this time pulling it with your hands. Be careful about your back (do not round it!) and lift up your legs slowly.
Another method is to place the looped strap under the balls of your feel and under your shoulder blades. Lift your legs as you would during a normal boat pose. You can lay your lower arms on the mat to help you balance. When you start being comfortable, for an added challenge, try to balance yourself without your hands. Simply lift your arms and keep them parallel to the ground.
Dancer’s Pose, Natarajasana
You might want to stay close to a wall the first few times you do this one. Make a small loop beforehand at the end of your strap. Then, place your foot in the loop. Bringing your hands up while holding the other end of the belt, point your elbows towards the sky. Start making your way along the strap, shortening it.
Hammock stretch, Supta Padangusthasana
If your neck hurts, this is the pose for you. Finally relieve those tensions! You will need a long looped strap for this padangusthasana (above 6 feet). Place the strap on the ball of your foot. You can start by simply raising said leg vertically while stretching it gently while pulling the strap with your hands. Once you’re comfortable, pass the strap behind your head and let it rest there, on the back of your head—not of your neck! Then, relax your hands down. If you feel uncomfortable, just loosen your strap.
Cover photo: fizkes | Bigstock