II. How to Practice Yoga with Strap
- Side Stretch
Side stretch is often performed before yoga exercises to fully stretch your shoulders, arms and all sides of the body. In order to do that, you have to hold your mat strap a little bit wider than your shoulder width swaying slowly with your breaths and stretching yourself side by side.
- Opening Your Shoulders
Opening your shoulders is also a pre-exercise practice that can pave the way for your workouts. Again, hold your mat strap a little bit wider than your shoulder width. Bring your arms straight towards the front and take them back slowly. In order to make sure that your movement stays standard and comfortable, you should keep your hands wide enough on the mat strap.
Paschimottanasana is a kind of asana that is also called Seated Forward Bend. First, you need to sit down and place the strap around your feet balls. With straightened legs and strap, you can open up your hamstrings by sticking to this posture. It is advised that you softly pull yourself forward but avoid a round back.
- Bound Angle Pose
Bound angle pose helps to stretch inner thighs and hips. Here is what you should do. Make a loop from the strap and put the loop around your sacrum and under your feet. Tighten the strap and you will find that your legs are pulled to the body. You can open your hips while nailing this posture.
- Reclining Leg Stretch
You ought to lay down before lifting one of your legs with the strap placed on the ball of the lifted foot. Slowly lift your foot towards the sky and use your hands to tighten the leg. In order to make sure that your shoulders are comfortable, you can keep your elbows on the floor/mat. Also, it is the middle part of the strap that should be placed on your foot, and you can turn to the other leg every 10 minutes of training.
- Extended Hand to Big Toe
This posture also helps to stretch your hamstrings. Simply make a loop from the strap and place one of your feet into the loop. It should be noted that the loop must be made at the end of the strap. Then, raise the knee and stick to the posture with the hand on the same body side. Slowly straighten the strap with your hand and you can put the other arm around your waist. Hold on to this posture for at least 5 minutes before switching to the other foot. But, if you feel extremely uncomfortable, stop this posture at once.
Natarajasana is often adopted by dancers as an effective posture to enhance flexibility, hence the common name “Dancers’ Pose”. Make a loop at the end of the mat strap and put one of your feet into the loop. You can stand against a wall in case of falling. Raise your hands while holding the other end of the strap, pointing your elbows towards the ceiling. Press on the shoulder strap and start walking along the shoulder strap to make it shorter.
- Janu Sirsasana
This asana is also called the Head-to-Knee Pose. You should start in Dandasana bending your right leg and taking the foot close to the inner thigh of your left leg. Make a loop from your mat strap and put it around the ball of your left foot. While holding on the strap, you should gently bend yourself to the extended left foot until you have reached the limit. Again, do not force yourself to do this asana in case of injury.
- Gomukhasana Arms
Put your left arm behind the back and you right arm behind the neck while holding onto the strap with both of your hands. Pull the strap in opposite directions and feel the extension of this pose.
Do what you can to stretch you shoulders. But if you have sensitive joints, it would be better for you to try other asanas as this one really challenges your arms and shoulders.
Navasana, including Half and Full Boat Pose, is the most difficult asana among the ten, requiring both core strength and balance. Place the mat strap beneath your feet balls and catch two ends of the strap. Lift up your legs slowly while keeping your back stay extended rather than rounded. Push your feet onto the strap. Keep your knees bent and your shins parallel to the ground for a Half Boat Pose. If you are a master, try and nail the Full Boat Pose.