Sunday, 13 November 2016

Yoga with a strap

A yoga strap is essential to your yoga practice.  It can help you get a delicious stretch, help you move deeper into a pose or it can be used to lengthen your arm, if like me you cannot reach in some poses.  A yoga strap can also help your body open gradually and helps you keep good alignment.  Below are some of the poses where a strap is useful.

Supta padangusthasana (using your strap extends your arm so that you do not strain your neck and shoulder) - lie on your mat and draw your right knee in towards your chest. If you have lower back issues bend your left leg, otherwise press the back of your left leg into the mat. Take the strap around the ball of your right foot and holding the strap in both hands start to straighten the back of your leg.  Work with the breath with each inhale press through your right heel, with each exhale you may be able to draw your leg closer in.  Continue until you find your 'edge' - that place where you feel a stretch but not a strain.  Now hold both sides of the strap in your right hand and place your left hand on your left hip.  Breathe in and as you breathe out engage your core and take your leg out to the side and up.  If you cannot get your leg higher than your hip, bend your knee slightly.  To come out of the pose bend your right knee, breathe out, engage your core and draw your leg back to centre then down on the mat.  Repeat second side.


Shoulder stretches (using your belt gives you a delicious stretch in these shoulder openers)  - sit in Easy pose or back on your heels.  Fold your strap in two and take hold of the ends. Inhale stretch your arms up, exhale lower. Repeat twice more.  Then opening  the belt up take your hands wider.  Inhale take your arms up, exhale take the belt down behind your back.  Inhale lift your arms back up, exhale lower to your start position.  Repeat twice more. Still with your arms wide, inhale take your arms up, exhale lower your left arm down to the left, sliding your hand down the belt to open up the right side of your body.  Inhale take your arms up, exhale repeat to the other side to open the left side of your body.  Repeat twice more.



Bow pose (a yoga strap helps you reach your feet until your spinal flexibility increases) - lie on your tummy with your arms by your sides, bend your knees.  Take hold of your feet or ankles or take a belt around your feet and hold that.  Inhale press your feet up and back to lift your head and chest from the mat.  Breathe out to lower.  Repeat then take a Child's pose to uncurl your spine. 



Cow Face Arms -in a standing or seated position, with the strap over your right shoulder, breathe in raise your right arm, breathe out take your right hand down your back.  Breathe in extend your left arm forward, breathe out externally rotate your left arm up your back.  If your hands do not meet take hold of the strap with your hands and creep your fingers towards one another.  Do not pull on the strap which will drive your hands further apart. Release when you are ready and roll your shoulders up by your ears and back and down to release your shoulders.  Repeat second side.



Bound Side Angle (using the belt in this pose helps you keep good alignment.  If you strain to get your hands to meet, there is a good chance that your body will come forward ) - step your feet wide, take a strap in your left hand and turn the whole of the right leg to the right, toes of the left foot turning in about 45 degrees. Ladies should line up front and back heels, men front heel to back instep. Bring your hands to prayer position.  Inhale stretch your arms out at shoulder height, exhale bend your front knee.  Post your right hand under the right leg and take your left arm with the belt behind your back.  If your hands do not meet, hold onto the strap.  To come out of the pose inhale release your right hand, bring your arms to shoulder height, exhale turn your feet to face forward, bring your hands to your heart. Repeat on the second side.



Extended Big Toe Balance (a strap in this pose extends your arm)- make a loop in your strap and take it around the ball of your right foot.  Find a drishti, a gaze point straight ahead. Inhale, bend your right knee adjusting your hand position on the strap, breathe out engage your core and stretch your right leg forward, letting the strap out accordingly. Take a breath in and as you breathe out, engage your core and take your leg out to the right.  Inhale bring your leg back to centre, exhale release your leg down.  Repeat on the second side.



Boat variation (using a strap helps give you greater stability in this pose.  It also helps you get the lift in your chest) - sit with your knees bent and place a strap around the balls of your feet, holding onto the strap with both hands. Breathe in and as you breathe out rock back on your sit bones and lift your shins parallel with the ceiling as you pull on the strap to lift your chest. If you wish on your next exhale engage your core and straighten your legs.  Breathe in to release the pose.



Janu sirsasana (Head to knee forward bend) a strap will help your increase your flexibility in this pose. - sit on a block with your legs outstretched.  Bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot against your left thigh. Twist to the left so that your breast bone lines up with your outstretched left leg.  Hinging from the groin fold forward easing back if you are straining in the pose. Either bring your hands to either side of your straight leg, the sides of your foot or take hold of a strap placed around the ball of your left foot. With each inhale lengthen through the crown of your head and with the exhale you may find that you can move deeper into the pose but do not strain.   Breathe in to come up slowly and release. Repeat on the second side.






Seated forward bend - take a strap around the balls of both feet and hold the belt in both hands.  Breathe in pull on the strap to lift through the spine, breathe out hinge forward from the groin adjusting your hand position on the belt.   With each inhale lengthen through the crown of your head and with the exhale you may find that you can move deeper into the pose but do not strain.   Breathe in to come up slowly and release.



Supta Baddha Konasana (a strap helps you position your feet close to your pelvis)- sit with your legs outstretched then bending your knees bring the soles of your feet together.  Take a strap around your sacrum, over your inner thighs and around your feet.  Lie back on your mat and adjust the strap if you need to.  Place cushions under your outer thighs to protect your SI joint.  To come out of the pose take hold of the outsides of your leg, bring your knees together, feet to the mat, roll onto your right side and come up.






No comments:

Post a Comment