I always pack a yoga strap when I travel. It’s small and light, there are an infinite number of ways you can use this versatile prop to enhance your yoga practice.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to use the strap in a yoga practice.
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose):
- Sit in Dandasana (staff pose). You can be on a folded blanket if your hamstrings are tight. If you need more support, sit on the blanket with your back against the wall.
- Use your fingers on your inner knees to draw the legs outward from the hip and carefully bring the soles of your feet together.
- Bring the heels as close to the hips as possible without any pain in the knees. Once in Baddha Konasana, take the strap under your feet, cross the strap once over the top of your feet, and hold it with the opposite hand.
- Press the soles of your feet together and allow the inner thighs to widen from side to side.
- Point your elbows back and slightly down to open your chest. Stay in this pose for a few minutes breathing steadily with an upright spine. To come out, take the strap off and use your hands on the outside of your thighs to help close them together. Stretch your legs forward into Dandasana to clear your knees.
- From Dandasana, separate the legs to a wide V shape. Sit on a folded blanket if you are falling backward in the hips and spine. If you need more support, sit on the blanket with your back against the wall and put a rolled blanket under each knee so they are supported too.
- Place one strap around each foot just below the toes and hold the long ends of the strap with each hand.
- Bend your elbows downward and slightly backward, using the straps to lift and spread the chest. Firmly press your front thighs down to lift the spine more.
- Maintain the legs in their upright alignment, with the centre of the thigh bone, knees, shin bones and back heels lined up and going straight down into the floor. Stay for a few minutes breathing steadily.
- To come out, release the straps, and use your hands under you inner knees to carefully lift the knees and close the legs. Stretch your legs forward into Dandasana to clear your knees.
- For a great outer hip stretch, put your right leg up, hook your right thumb into the crease of your hip and cross the right leg over the body a few inches to the left side.
- With your right thumb, press the right hip away from your face. This can be intense, so keep your face relaxed, your throat soft, and don’t go too far too quickly, you want to feel this stretch in the outer right hip.
- After a few steady breaths, keep your leg straight and bring it back to vertical, hug the shin towards you and then change sides.
The next time you’re packing your bags for a get-away, put your strap in your bag and keep up with your practice. Even a few minutes a day working with the strap in these poses can make a big difference.
Meghan Goodman is a professional dancer and Vancouver yoga instructor with Vinyasa training from Flow Yoga. She is currently working towards a certification in Iyengar yoga under the guidance of training teacher Louie Ettling. Meghan teaches regularly at Flow Yoga, East Side Yoga and Green Room Yoga. For more information on classes, to book a workshop or private session, please visit www.meghangoodman.wordpress.com