So what are yoga straps?
And will they help take your yoga practice to the next level?
In this guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about them…
What Is A Yoga Strap?
A yoga strap is a long, sturdy, non-elastic belt-like strip of fabric that’s commonly used as a prop in yoga.
Although they might seem like a modern-day tool, yoga straps actually have a long and interesting history.
According to The Luminescent, the yoga strap invention was credited to B. K. S. lyengar in the 1960s.
However, strap-like cloths have been used for thousands of years, almost as long as yoga has been around.
In fact, Sanskrit literature talks about a device known as the yogapaṭṭa. In English, this term translates to “cloth of yoga.”
We consider the yogapaṭṭa to be the ancient version of the yoga strap we have today.
Additionally, in India, ancient sculptures and statues of gods and goddesses were found with a yoga strap-like object while sitting or bending in different yoga positions.
Likewise, in old paintings from the Mughal Empire, ascetics and yogins are often depicted with straps wrapped around their bodies, which we presume to be a yogapaṭṭa or yoga strap.
From research, we can assume that two thousand years ago, yoga straps have been used similarly today.
Although B. K. S. lyengar is believed to have started using yoga straps for postural purposes first.
Useful Resource: 15 Beautiful Yoga Sayings That Will Inspire You
Nevertheless, there are many ways yoga straps are used and a plethora of purposes that they serve in modern times.
Today, there are numerous yoga straps to pick from.
These straps come in a variety of materials, sizes, and colors. Some yoga straps feature metal or plastic buckles while others remain buckle-free.
The type of yoga strap you pick out will depend on what yoga moves you’ll be performing, what you personally feel comfortable with, and your height and/or the length of your limbs.
What Are Yoga Straps For?
Although yoga straps are not required, these devices can be used alongside a variation of yoga poses and stretches.
Depending on the position, yoga straps may be wrapped around a limb, like a foot or leg, as the yogi holds the ends of the strap in place or even tugs on it.
Adding a yoga strap to your routine, fortunately, is not difficult.
Some yogis like to include the use of a yoga strap alongside the use of other yoga tools like a yoga mat and/or yoga blocks.
Generally, there are many versatile and creative ways to use a yoga strap.
Useful Resource: Yoga Blocks: Everything You Need To Know
How Do Yoga Straps Help?
Yoga straps can be particularly helpful for those who are new to yoga or experience pain during performing certain poses or stretches.
However, a yoga strap can also be useful for someone looking to move onto more advanced positions in their practice.
When using a yoga strap, you benefit from being able to maintain a certain pose longer as you can achieve a greater sense of balance.
When engaging in certain poses or stretches, you may also find that you’re able to greatly expand your reach with a strap, which can be extra useful for those with shorter limbs or poor flexibility.
Yoga straps can additionally be used to improve alignment and achieve correct posture.
Because of the latter, yoga straps are commonly used alongside lyengar yoga.
Likewise, adding a yoga strap to your practice can help open up your chest when your shoulders are tight.
Regardless, just about anyone could benefit from the use of a yoga strap. Both first-time and advanced yogis may find this tool quite useful alongside their engagement in yoga.
5 Stretches For Yoga Straps You Should Definitely Try
There are numerous yoga strap stretches and poses you can engage in depending on your preferences and level of yoga advancement, including the following…
1. Side Stretch
If you’re wanting an easy yoga strap stretch that’s great for your shoulders, arms, and sides of your body, the Side Stretch might be great for you to try.
- Stand up with good posture. Keep your feet aligned, about five to eight inches away from one another.
- Take a section of your yoga strap that’s a bit wider than your shoulder length.
- Hold both of your arms up in the air while tightly gripping on your yoga strap.
- Slowly sway your body side to side to get a nice stretch on your upper body and sides.
- Repeat the stretch as long as you prefer.
2. Baddha Konasana / Bound Angle Pose
The Bound Angle Pose is great to give the hips and inner thighs a nice stretch. Most beginners will be capable of performing this pose.
However, please avoid if you have a knee or groin injury.
- For this yoga pose/stretch, you’ll need a yoga strap that’s about 8 to 10 inches long. Although this pose can be done without a strap, the use of a strap can help stabilize your spine.
- Sit down with your back upright and your legs straight out in front of you.
- If your hips or groin area are tight, raise your pelvis on a blanket or thin pillow.
- Lie down flat on the ground. If this hurts your back, you may want to use a thick yoga mat.
- Loop your yoga strap around the back of your pelvic rim. Then take the strap, looping it over your ankles and underneath your feet.
- After relaxing, exhale, bend your knees with your heels close to your pelvis, and drop your knees outward.
- Make sure the soles of your feet are against one another with your heels as close to your pelvis as possible.
- Lay your arms flat off to the side.
- Stay in this position as long as you feel comfortable.
3. Gomukhasana Arms / Cow Face Pose
The Gomukhasana Arms stretch is great for beginners.
However, avoid the Cow Face Pose if you have tight shoulders or have a shoulder or back injury.
- Sit in the Staff Pose (Dandasana). Bend your knees, keeping your feet directly on the floor.
- Place your left foot under your right knee outside your right hip.
- Cross your right leg over your left leg with the right knee right over the left knee. Your right foot should be outside the left hip.
- Keep your heels at an equal distance from your hips.
- As you inhale, bring your right arm straight out to the right, keeping it parallel to the ground.
- Rotate your arm so that your thumb faces the floor first. Then point backward as your palm faces the ceiling.
- As you exhale, place your arm behind your torso with your forearm against your lower back. Keep your right elbow along the right side of your torso.
- With your shoulders rolled down and back, move your forearm to where it’s parallel to your spinal cord. Keep the back of your hand between your shoulder blades.
- As you inhale, bring your left arm straight out in front of you, keeping it parallel to the ground.
- Face your left palm upward. As you inhale once again, move your arm up to the ceiling with your palm facing backward.
- Lift with your left arm. Then as you exhale, bend your elbow to your right hand, which should be holding a yoga strap. “Connect” your right and left hands via the strap.
- Bring your left elbow to the ceiling and then your right elbow to the floor. Clench your shoulder blades, and puff out your chest.
- Maintain this position for approximately five to seven breaths.
- When the time is up, try again with the position of your arms and legs reversed.
4. Natarajasana / Full Dancer Pose
The Full Dancer Pose can aid your legs, coordination, and balance. Performing this pose/stretch without a yoga strap is fairly advanced.
With a strap, however, this position becomes significantly easier.
- Stand on a flat surface with good posture.
- With your yoga strap, make a small loop. You can do this with a buckle or without a buckle.
- Place the loop around one of your feet.
- Slowly raise the foot with the strap back behind you and upward as far as you can with your leg bent, all while balancing on your other leg.
- As you bring your foot up, hold onto the strap with both hands. Keep your hands above your head.
- Walk your hands down the strap as you’re holding your leg in the air to shorten the distance between your hands and your leg. This will help strengthen the stretch.
- Keep in this position as long as possible. Release and try with your other leg.
5. Navasana / Boat Pose
The Boat Pose or Navasana is especially great for the legs and back. However, it’s going to require a bit of balance and endurance to complete.
- Sit down on the floor with your legs out straight. Keep your back in an upright position.
- Place your yoga strap around the balls of your feet, ensuring the strap is even on both sides. Hold on to the ends of the strap. You may feel your muscles burning a little.
- Rock back so that your legs are now in the air as far as you can go. Keep your back straight.
- If your strap keeps slipping, it’s a good idea to invest in a yoga strap with a buckle, so you can buckle it into a tighter loop for a better grip.
- While in the Boat Pose, inhale and exhale for five breaths. As you do this, focus on opening your chest and keeping your legs straight.
- When done, release back to your initial position.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your Yoga Straps
There are specific guidelines and suggestions you should consider before purchasing and trying a yoga strap, such as the following:
- Never use a belt or other type of strap as a “yoga strap.” Buying an authentic one will ensure greater safety and efficiency.
- Pick a yoga strap size based on your height. However, just because you’re tall doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily need the largest yoga strap size.
- When deciding between a yoga strap with a plastic buckle or a metal buckle, consider where you’ll mainly be practicing. As you might expect, yoga straps with metal buckles will be louder.
- If you’re a beginner yogi, consider attending a yoga class or working one-on-one with an instructor to advance in yoga both with and without using a yoga strap.
- Prior to performing with your yoga strap, engage in a few sun salutations.
- It’s also a good idea to engage in a short session of meditation, relieving any stress you’re holding onto.
- Use your yoga strap to carry your yoga mat for easier transportation.
- Experiment with various positions using your yoga straps. They can be used for both basic and advanced moves.
- If you find that a yoga strap of a certain size and/or fabric doesn’t work well for you, give other types a go.
8 Tips On How To Use Yoga Straps For Posture
Many yogis use a yoga strap to aid with the alignment of their back, and thus, help them achieve better posture over time.
If you’re interested in doing the same, consider the following tips:
- Experiment with different yoga positions that are known to help with posture.
- For certain yoga moves, consider coupling the use of a yoga block or two alongside your use of a yoga strap.
- You can also wear your yoga strap. Wrap it around your bra line, throw the ends over your shoulder and form them into an ‘x’ and tug it, and bring the ends back to the front to buckle it in place.
- Never expect immediate better posture after using yoga straps. For the best results, utilize yoga straps on a regular basis. Slowly engage in longer, more frequent sessions.
- Stop using yoga straps immediately if you experience pain or discomfort from using them or wearing them.
- If you have a back or shoulder injury or condition, please speak with a physician before attempting to straighten your back or shoulders with a yoga strap.