How to Use a Yoga Strap

How to Use a Yoga Strap to Enhance Your Practice

Reclined Big Toe Pose With a Strap. Visual Ideas/Camillo Morales/Blend Images/Getty Images

A yoga strap, also called a belt, is useful in any position where you need to reach something with your hand (like your foot or your other hand) and you can't quite get there. Think of the strap as an arm extender. Most straps have a sturdy webbed construction with a buckle so that you can adjust the size of your loop as necessary although straps with fixed lengths are also available. If you don't have an official yoga strap, you can always hack it with a belt

This photo of two people in reclined big toe pose illustrates how to use a strap to help maintain good alignment to get the most out of a posture and avoid injury. In the full pose, you would hold your big toe with your fingers in a yogi toe lock. But what if you can't reach your toe with your leg straight? Without the strap, you would either have to bend your knee or overextend your arm. By using the strap, you can get the hamstring stretch and keep your arm in the shoulder socket while lying on your back. You can use the strap this way in a seated position (janu sirsasana or pascimottanasana) or even standing up (standing big toe pose).

How to Get Into a Bind with a Yoga Strap

Cow Face Arms With a Strap. © Ann Pizer

When you're attempting a pose with a bind (typically clasping your hands together in position that's difficult to reach), a strap comes in very handy. Cow face pose, shown here, is an example of how to use a strap to extend your reach. Without the strap, you're left in the awkward position of not quite being able to settle into the pose. With the strap, you can get your arms into the correct position so that, over time, you can begin to open a tight area of the body. You could also use a strap to facilitate a bind in pose like bound side angle. Sometimes there are binds where you hold onto a toe. In full pigeon, for instance, you can loop a strap over your raised foot and hold the ends with your hands as you work yourself into the pose.

How to Use a Yoga Strap as a Spacer

Forearm Stand - Pincha Mayurasana
Forearm Stand - Pincha Mayurasana. © Ann Pizer

One of the best ways to use a strap is to maintain the proper amount of space between your arms in poses where the arms seem to want to wander out of position. For example, in inverted poses like forearm stand (shown here without the strap), handstand, shoulderstand, and wheel, it's important to keep your hands and/or elbows directly under your shoulders. You can set the strap up to be the width of your shoulders and then slip it onto your arms above the elbow. In order to keep the strap taut, you will have to keep your arms in their proper position.

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