poses, props

Using a yoga strap at home

You probably have a strap among your props, and if you don’t it’s easy to find one, at your yoga studio or at Target, or maybe even at the grocery store. I like mine to be at least 8 feet long. Here are a few things you can do in your home practice with a strap. PLEASE PLEASE be careful with the first two poses. Tug and test the strap before you get in the pose!

Neck traction

You can do this with one or two straps, seated on the floor or on a chair. This version uses two straps while kneeling in Vajrasana on a blanket.

Buckle the strap to make the largest possible loop. Drop the buckle end over the top of a door, and close the door. Your door MUST close securely. If it doesn’t, use a different door. Give the strap a good tug on the loop side. Then make a similar loop in a second belt and drop it over the bottom of the door loop.

Kneel on a blanket or sit on a chair, depending on the length of your strap setup, facing the door. The idea is that your head should be lifted up, not pulled forward. Take the bottom loop(s) around the back of your head. You may need to move around a bit to get the feeling that your head is being lifted. I like to scoot in enough that I can rock back and forth a little with my breath. Stay for a few minutes. When you’re done, rest and observe the sensation all down your spine.

Rope Dog

Make the largest possible loop in the strap. Open the door, and wrap the strap around both doorknobs. Make sure the buckle is secure, and position it a few inches away from the knob.

Step through the loop and place the strap at the hip crease. Walk out away from the door so that the strap is taut.

Put your hands on the floor and step into Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog). Pay attention to the lift in your hips and the length in your back. When you come out, go into the pose without the strap and see if you can reproduce the lifted feeling!

Stadium Seating

This is a really stable way of sitting in Swastikasana (cross-legged). It’s valuable for meditation and pranayama practice where you might stay seated for a long time.

Sit on a bolster or a stack of blankets with your legs crossed in front of you. Sit high enough to allow your knees to be below hip level. (If you are too low, you won’t be able to maintain your stability.)

Make a big loop in the strap and put it around your pelvis and across the front of your knees. The buckle should be on the outside of one thigh with the tail of the strap coming toward you so that you can adjust it easily and so that the buckle is not on your knee. Adjust the strap across the back of the pelvis so it is just below your waist. Enjoy the steadiness of your seat.

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