We’ve got a tendency to look at props and think that those are just for people who can’t do the full pose or otherwise need some assistance. But, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Actually, if you want to advance your practice safely, one of the easiest ways is to simply grab a prop.
Say it with me now: Yoga props are for everyone! They can be used in so many cool ways to enhance your practice and help you find better alignment. I use them all the time in my practice, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve been able to find more ease in poses that I otherwise would have just muscled and suffered through, and I’ve been able to experience other poses in new ways.
But first I had to get over myself — easier said than done. Now, every time I practice, at home or in a studio, I’ve got them handy just in case. Even when I feel like I’ve got it handled on my own, it’s good to sometimes check myself before I wreck myself.
And I encourage you to try them out in your own practice. Who knows, you could be missing out on an experience that would revolutionize your practice.
In case you haven’t noticed, I’m on a mission to change the way we look at yoga props. To that end, I give you …
5 Awesome Ways to Use a Yoga Strap
1. It gives you longer limbs to get that bind with greater ease. Sometimes, our arms and legs just aren’t quite long enough. The strap is the perfect solution! Use it in a seated forward fold to help you keep your spine long, rather than rounding your back. Use it in Cow Face Pose to get that fabulous shoulder stretch when you can’t yet reach your other hand. It’s a great way to keep your heart open and get that long extension through the back leg in Dancer Pose. The possibilities are endless. Use a strap anytime you could use longer limbs and to bridge the gap while working up to full binds.
2. It helps you experience a fuller yet gentle release. The strap can offer extra support, which will allow your body to relax into the pose by eliminating excess strain. Use it to release the muscles of your low back and neck while stretching your hamstrings or twisting. Use it around your calves or ankles in Legs Up A Wall to allow your outer hips to relax. In Bound Angle Pose, you can loop the strap around your hips and feet as shown to get more support for the low back and hips, which is just plain awesome for people with tight hips.
3. It’ll help you find a ton of space in your side body. Sadly, the sides of our body don’t get much love or attention during the average day. Spending a little time opening up space through the sides of the torso will allow you to breathe deeper, sit up taller, and relieve built-up tension in your back. Use it to stretch your lats while standing or use it to revolve your Head-to-Knee Pose for a sublime seated stretch.
4. It helps keep your arms aligned properly. Many of us struggle with arm balances and inversions because of an outward migration of our arms and elbows. Placing a strap around your arms above or below the elbows will help you to not lose as much strength due to poor arm alignment, which allows you to support your own weight more efficiently.
5. It helps you keep your legs aligned properly in backbends. Just like our arms, our knees have a tendency to migrate out of their power position while in certain poses. In Bridge and Wheel, you can use the strap to keep your thighs parallel. Additionally, thinking about pressing your thighs outward into the strap will keep your knees from caving inward in the pose.
How have you used your yoga strap to deepen your practice? —Alison