Do you know what the yoga straps are? They look like regular belts, and there can be some loops there, but the purpose of yoga straps is to help you do the asana, which is still difficult for you, properly. Besides straps there are other things like foam blocks, pillows and bolsters – all to serve the same purpose of helping you; often they are called ‘yoga props”.
I think the credit for the introduction of yoga straps and other props belong to B.K.S. Iyengar, who once switched his style of yoga performance from dynamic asanas to static asanas. And since the proper asana performance is important, and the newbie are usually are not able to achieve that, yoga blocks and straps can help.
How Can Yoga Straps Help You?
The most common help will be found in assistance in stretching; for many people even the asanas or yoga poses from the beginner’s category may be difficult to perform due to the lack of flexibility. So to prevent the improper postures, one can use a strap to ‘extend’ their arms or legs. For example, if you are trying to do paschimottanasana or the sitting forward bending pose, in the beginning you are unlikely to reach your toes. But in order to keep your spine properly aligned, you can use a strap – just wrap it around your feet and hold the ends in your hands; keep your spine straight, and while pulling the strap, bend forward gently, feeling the stretching in your hips and back (especially lower back, but in some people the upper back stretching is also felt).
The same way it can help you with yoga poses that require a significant amount of muscle strength; for example, some standing poses where you need to show both balance and flexibility, will be easier to do with a strap, since in standing poses you often need to have strong legs to achieve both. Or if it is difficult for you to do the navasana, you can use a yoga strap to bring relief to abdominal muscles. Straps are also helpful in twisting poses when it is difficult to take the correct pose right from the beginning.
How Do I Use A Strap?
It is not really difficult; just hold the ends of the strap, and the wrap the strap over your legs or hips, depending on the asana you perform. The main idea of the strap is to keep your spine in a correct position; but it will also help to do an asana better.
There are yoga straps with loops, and I’d definitely recommend using them, since they can be adjusted to your needs. Personally I use a multiple loop strap, and it is very easy to adjust it ‘on the go’.
Tip: while the yoga straps help, yet I would recommend doing yoga poses without a strap from time to time. Why? Because in yoga balance is important: the muscles of your own body will balance themselves and the body in general – thus the harmonious development takes place. So, use the strap in the beginning, when you learn the asana, and later try to practice the asana without a strap. You will notice that the more you practice the better it goes.
There are many ways how to use yoga straps in your yoga routine; I just outlined some basics; the particulars of asana performance will depend on:
- The style of yoga you practice
- Your level
- Your strength and flexibility
- The particular problems or difficulties you may have with certain asanas
- The type or model of the yoga strap.
When you practice yoga, never hurry; it is about your personal development, not a competition, so follow your way gradually but regularly, and you will achieve success in yoga.