I think yoga straps are a godsend for inflexible yogi's like myself. They are such a versatile yoga prop. I continue to use them and believe they provide great benefits for both beginner and advanced yogis.
Yoga straps will assist you while you are stretching. They help you sink deeper into a stretch or a pose while maintaining proper alignment. Using straps is beneficial as it can help you advance your practice and avoid any unnecessary strain on your body.
Using props such as yoga straps is something you will want to learn more about if you are looking to improve your practice. For more information on what yoga straps are and exactly what they can do, keep reading the article below.
What Are Yoga Straps?
Yoga straps are long pieces of a rope-like fabric that have a D-ring and cinch buckles attached to them for easy adjustments. Some others come without the D-ring or cinch buckles and only have loops at the end.
If you have attended a yoga class before, you may have seen that they have these in a bin near their yoga blocks. In many classes, you will be asked to use these to help you throughout your practice, but in some cases, you may not. Nonetheless, they may come in handy for many of your poses.
What Do Yoga Straps Do?
The main purpose of using yoga straps is to assist you while performing yoga poses. Utilise them to achieve a greater range of motion and deeper stretch. One of the most common ways they can be used is for simple leg stretches. An example of this would be the seated forward bend.
Take the loop on the strap or wrap the strap behind your feet. Next grab both ends with your hands and slowly relax into the pose, breathing deeply.
The strap can also be used for plenty of other movements, including both seated and standing movements. They help beginners and even advanced yogis relax into the pose. This ensures that you practice poses correctly without over exerting yourself.
The Benefits of Yoga Straps
There are plenty of benefits that come with using a yoga strap in your practice. As well as helping you stretch better, it can also help you avoid any unnecessary injuries. Here are some of the many benefits that come with using yoga straps in your practice:
Allows you to lean deeper into a stretch
Using the straps, you can pull yourself deeper into a pose, giving you a more enjoyable stretch that does not sacrifice form.
Use them to modify different poses
In poses like forward bends your range of motion may be limited. Use a strap to extend your reach and still feel the benefits of the pose. It is a great way to give you a chance to practice poses that may be difficult with less flexibility. In another section below, we will address different poses you can do with straps.
Advancing your practice
Using yoga straps is a great way to help you access postures that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do. Giving your body the chance to practice the pose with correct alignment until one day, you will not need the straps.
Provides support and alignment for your form
Using a strap when you have tight shoulders or hamstrings is a great way to safely sink into poses that you may not have been able to before.
Improves your Posture
While using straps, you will help stretch out tight areas in your body and stop you from reaching too far into poses or rounding your back.
Prevents Injuries, Pain and Strains
If you are forcing yourself into poses, you can be doing a lot of harm to your body. It can cause either immediate pain or injury or cause you to strain part of your body that you may not feel until the next day.
While straps cannot be used for every pose, having them nearby for poses, you could use a little extra stretch or support can benefit you immensely.
The Best Stretches and Poses performed with a Yoga Strap
There are many different ways you can use the strap and many poses that you may want to use the strap for. Below we have outlined our favourite poses and stretches that use the strap. These different ways to stretch in the poses will help strengthen your practice.
Seated Forward Fold
This is the most simple of all of the poses, but it is not the most natural position for you to be in. If you have a flexible back and legs, this may come easier to you. If you are less flexible the beauty of the straps is they allow you to sink deeper into the bend slowly.
You will start in a seated position for this pose, with your legs straight in front of you. You can do one leg at a time or both. In many cases, you will find doing both legs a little harder. To do this, follow the steps below:
- You will wrap the strap around the back/base of your foot and slowly lean down towards your legs.
- As you begin, keep the strap long, and shorten it as you begin to lean in more, allowing yourself to sink your chest towards your knees.
Standing Side Stretch
This pose is performed standing up and can be a great stretch for your arms, back, and sides. To do this, follow the steps below:
- To begin, you will grab the strap in both hands in front of you, more than shoulder-width apart.
- You will then slowly bring it up over your head, lean to one side, and then repeat on the other. Remember to keep your feet shoulder-width apart and not bend too far over as you want to avoid straining anything.
Cow Face Pose
This pose is done while sitting on your knees on the ground. You will want your shoulders to be tight, as they are going to be behind you. To do this pose, follow the steps below:
- You will bring the strap in one arm up into the sky, then bend it down behind your head, with your elbow to the sky.
- Then reach the opposite arm back behind you to grab the strap. The closer your hands are to each other, the more of a stretch you will feel.
- Take this slowly, as it can be quite challenging for your arms to adjust.
If you want to feel a deep stretch in your shoulders, this stretch with your strap is great. For this, the steps are as follows:
- You will want to begin holding the strap in both hands, slightly wider than shoulder-width.
- Move your shoulders out in front of you, and then up above your head.
- Then follow through with bringing your shoulders behind you.
You can keep repeating this a few times until you feel like you got a good stretch. Keep in mind you don’t want to bring your arms too far behind you, as you want to stick with what feels most comfortable.
This pose is done standing up, with both hands over your head. For safety, it is best to do this pose close to a wall. To do this pose, follow the steps below:
- First, you want to make a loop with the strap or use a loop that is already in and place your foot onto it.
- Then while bringing your hands up, behind you, you will bring your elbows up and bring your foot up behind you with your knee bent.
- Then slowly begin to shorten the strap to help bring your foot higher to the sky.
This pose is great for stretching your hamstrings and your arms. It can also help improve your core as you are forced to squeeze it tight to maintain your balance.
One-Legged King Pigeon
This pose is done on the ground, with one leg bent under you and the other bent back behind you with your leg in the air. If you aren’t too flexible in your hips or backs, you may have trouble with this one. Don’t worry, work at it slowly, and you will get it. To do this pose, follow the steps below:
- You want to put the loop around the foot you have back behind you, and you will hold it with one of your arms up, over, and behind your head.
- As you stretch, you want to keep your head straight up to the sky, with your head facing forward and your chest open. You will feel the strongest stretch in your quads.
- As time progresses, you will be able to slowly stretch your hand back to your foot. Furthermore one day you will be able to touch your foot to your hand or maybe even your head!
Bound Angle Pose
The bound angle pose provides you with a deep stretch in your thighs and your hips when using the straps.
For this pose, you will want to make a loop with the strap around your lower back all the way to underneath your feet. Then lay down, and drop your knees to the floor, so your hips are open to the ceiling. Since this may be hard to picture, watch this video for help:
Reclining Leg Stretch
This is a stretch that you will commonly do while in a yoga class. It provides a deep stretch in your thighs and can help immensely with flexibility. To do this pose:
How to do Garland Pose
- You want to start laying completely flat on your back.
- Move one knee up to your chest, and wrap the strap or the loop in the strap around your foot.
- Then, push your foot outwards and straighten your knee.
The goal here is to create a 90-degree angle with your legs, but this will not be attainable right away. So, to begin, bring the leg as high as you can while keeping it straight. If you want to bring it higher, put a slight bend in your knee but not too much, or you won’t feel the stretch anymore.
Remember to keep your elbows tucked in beside you and on the floor as relaxed as possible while still holding the straps tight.
Extended Hand to Big Toe
This scratch is very similar to the reclining leg stretch, except that it is done standing up. You may have also found that you had tried this pose in a yoga class before, except you never used a strap. If this was the case, you might have struggled even to reach your big toe in the first place. This is a great example of when you can use a strap to modify a pose.
- You will begin standing and bend one knee up to your chest.
- You will want to wrap the strap or loop around the base of your big toe (not your big toe, but the big ball that supports your big toe).
- Then you want to straighten the knee and slowly lift your leg towards the ceiling to make a 90-degree angle.
This pose takes a lot of balance, so don’t be discouraged. It helps to keep your other hand on your hip and keep your gaze focused on a set spot in front of you.
Half or Full Boat Pose
If you have ever done the half or full boat pose before, then you have likely experienced the struggle to keep your back from sinking and curving. Until you have a strong and steady core, this will be difficult for you to master. So, using straps is a great way to get there.
Instead of just holding your hands out in front of you with your feet in the air like a typical boat pose, you will wrap the strap around the bottom of both of your feet and hold it tight, with your hands holding the straps where your shins are.
Do I Always Need to Use Yoga Straps?
If you are new to yoga, using the straps can be a great way to help you build balance, strength, and flexibility. Some yoga instructors will want all students to use a strap for some poses. However, you do not have to use the straps if you don’t want to. Though, if you are struggling with a pose and a strap modification is possible, it wouldn’t hurt to try.
Using straps will help propel you advance your practice much faster. Continue to use them as you become more flexible to go deeper into your poses. After some time you will not need the strap but using them may give you a different stretch in a pose.
Yoga straps are an amazing way to stretch out your legs and arms before your practice and are definitely recommended to help warm you up.
Are Straps Only for Beginners?
No, straps are a great yoga prop for those practising yoga at any level, all the way from beginners to advanced yogis.
While they are extremely beneficial for learning a new pose or new to yoga in general, advanced yogis can also benefit from them. Providing them with a better stretch and helping them improve their overall alignment
Do Yoga Studios Provide Straps?
Previously, the majority of yoga studios, you will be provided straps. However, it may be best to give them a call ahead of time if you want to know if you should bring your own. Furthermore many studios will probably change their policies on providing equipment due to COVID-19.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to own your own pair of straps. You will be able to stretch and practice poses at home, improving your practice outside of the studio as well. This way, you are also always prepared if the studio does not have any straps for you to use.
Yoga straps are one of the best accessories and props you can use while learning yoga. As it allows you to advance your practice much faster as you can reach poses you may otherwise have been unable to do. Also, allowing you to practice proper alignment with a deeper stretch as it stops you from moving into awkward positions.
However, straps are also for advanced yogis, as it allows them to get in a deep stretch at any time . It also helps them improve their alignment in poses such as the extended hand to big toe.