Is there a ignored yoga strap or two in your bag? You may not realize that a strap can offer some excellent options for improving your practice.
You may find that using a strap to address your constricted areas is so enjoyable that you’ll add it to your regular practice.
Using a yoga strap is a good way to help yourself without the assistance of a teacher. No matter what your level of experience is with yoga, a strap can provide useful help on support, alignment, and posture.
Don’t forget to always listen to your body, and let your body open up in its own time.
How to use a Yoga Strap in Seated Poses:
In seated postures like a hamstring stretch, yoga straps can be used around the feet. Arms should be straight and grab hold wherever you can.
The pelvis will naturally tilt forward, bringing the body into alignment and bringing length into the hamstrings. It isn't often that we sit like this, so shoulders might creep up toward the ears with tension.
Be aware of that, and relax the shoulders away from the ears, keeping the spine long and the shoulder blades melting down the back. Your sternum is lifted.
How to use a Yoga Strap for Shoulders:
The Cow Face Pose is a pretty good pose to use for stretching the shoulders and chest. If your hands don't meet at first, use a strap to pull them together. Try to keep your spine long, and your chest lifted.
Here are a few more Strap assisted Poses to try...
Reclining Staff Pose:
For the Reclining Staff Pose, begin sitting on the floor. Make a large loop with your strap. Bring the strap up over your head and slide the back end of the loop down your back so that it’s against the top of your sacrum (you are sitting inside of the loop). Bring the other end of the loop over the arches of your feet. Adjust the strap so that the buckle is not against your sacrum or the soles of your feet. It should be in a place that is easily accessible to you when you lie on your back in case you need to tighten or loosen it.
Lie on your back and aim the soles of your feet skyward for a sustained hamstring stretch. The strap should be buckled snugly with no excess slack, supporting you in the stretch.
Press your sitting bones toward the floor and allow your lower back to curve in slightly, creating a small space between your low back and the floor. Resist the urge to flatten your lower back or to allow your hips to curl up away from the floor.
If you still don’t feel a hamstring stretch, you can draw your feet in a little closer toward you—creating more of an 80-degree angle (rather than a 90-degree angle) between your legs and the floor. Tighten your strap so that it remains tight, and maintain the space between your lower back and the floor.
Simple, yet effective. The Shoulders tend to collapse and tighten up towards the ears, so the strap helps keep the shoulders open, so you can really get into your side body and feel your ribs open and expand.
To go a little deeper in the practice, yoga straps can be used when coming into binds like the one shown above. The full bind is in the second picture, and if the hands don't quite meet, use a strap time you practice a bind and in time, the flexibility in the hip will come and the chest will open up, allowing the hands to clasp.
Bound Angel Pose:
For stretching the inner thighs and hips, come to Bound Angle Pose. Make a loop from the strap, and place it around your sacrum and underneath the feet. The tighter the strap, the closer your legs will be to your body. You can also lay down on your back while allowing your hips to open.
There are countless ways to use the strap for your advantage. Make sure you have a strap long enough to play with and start exploring different ways to make it a part of your personal practice!
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