Yoga can do wonders for your flexibility. You probably already know that.
But do you know just how much a yoga strap can help? Even if you can do extended hand-to-big-toe pose or dancer’s pose without the help of a strap, trying poses like these with a strap can open you up to new possibilities.
Not convinced yet? Here’s why you’ll want to make good use of your yoga strap.
Improve Your Alignment
It’s relatively easy to fall victim to a bad habit of poor alignment—particularly in poses you consider to be “easy,” such as forward folds. In poses like standing forward bend and seated forward bend, it’s tempting to round the back if it means you’ll be able to get your torso closer to your legs and your hands closer to your feet.
By using a strap, however, you get to switch your focus away from trying with all your might to touch your toes so that you can instead focus on lengthening your spine. Try using a strap with your forward bends next time you practice and notice the difference you feel when you consciously prevent yourself from rounding out your back.
Extend Your Legs Further
Yoga straps can do wonders for tight hamstrings and hips in poses that involve extending the leg straight out. For example, in extended hand-to-big-toe pose, you can make a loop in your strap and place it around the ball of your foot to help you extend the length of your arm without having to lift your leg so high up.
This all ties in with the previous point about alignment. By using a strap in a pose like extended hand-to-big-toe pose, you’ll also ensure that both legs stay straight and that your torso remains lifted. It may not feel like it, but you’ll be improving your flexibility in the process.
Open Up Your Shoulders
You might think that the key to poses like dancer’s pose and one-legged king pigeon lies in the backbend, but without open shoulders, they’ll be a big struggle to get right. This why you’ll often see yogis make a loop in their strap and place their foot in it during these two poses as they aim to point their elbows toward the sky.
You can also do a few shoulder opening exercises with your strap at the beginning of your practice to prep them for more demanding poses. Simply hold your strap with both hands at a length that’s a bit wider than your shoulders, and then move your arms back and forth in front of your chest and behind—making sure not to go further than what’s comfortable.
Prevent Pain and Injury
Let’s face it—we all have those days when we feel like like we’re actually moving backwards in our practice rather than forwards. Whether you’re fatigued, tense, stiff, or just not feeling it for whatever reason, using a strap can help deal with it so that you avoid overextending your body or pulling a muscle when you really should be taking it easy.
It doesn’t matter if you thought you mastered a particular pose. Your body is constantly changing, and what worked yesterday may not necessarily work today. Instead of pushing through it, check your ego by listening to your body and using a strap to gently ease into your poses.
Image (edited) via Crystal