Worldwide, 300 million people practice yoga. Its sacred power to rejuvenate and liberate is one that’s cultivated and loved by many. In America alone, there are at least 36 million practitioners.
Accessories like bolsters, blocks, and straps can help every yogi deepen their practice. Today we’re focusing on the benefits of doing stretches with yoga straps.
Yoga straps are fantastic tools that both novice and more experienced yoga practitioners can enjoy using in a variety of ways.
Straps help yogis find proper alignment, they can assist in deepening certain poses, and they can also aid in more restorative postures. A yoga strap has as many uses as you have ideas — so be creative!
This simple use of modification allows you to achieve poses that may have previously been inaccessible to you. Of all the yoga accessories out there, a yoga strap is a yogi’s best friend.
Here are 14 great postures and stretches to try!
Yoga Strap Poses for Upper Body
While these poses primarily target arms, chest, and shoulders, they can also target areas like core or back.
However, the poses in this section are more focused on the upper body.
1. Lateral Side Stretch (Seated or Standing)
This pose can be done from an easy-seated pose or standing with feet hips-distance apart.
Hold the yoga strap between both hands, arms fully extended in front of you (without locking). Raise arms straight above your head. From your seat or standing position, gently sway from left to right.
This pose opens up the side body while stretching arms and shoulders.
2. Shoulder Opener (A Bind Variation)
Several poses offer binding variations. If you find it hard to interlace or grab your palms behind your back, this shoulder opener variation should help.
Start the same way as you do with the lateral side stretch — strap between outstretched arms. Gently raise arms overhead, and then continue backward, behind your head. This strengthens shoulders and opens the chest.
You can also start by holding the yoga strap between both palms behind your back, and then gently folding forward and allowing hands to come off the back.
3. Cow Face Arms (Gomukhasana)
A cow face pose is another binding variation that takes practice to achieve!
Bend one arm up and overhead, palm behind you near your shoulder blades. Bend opposite arm below you and back, palm near the sacrum. Hold a yoga strap between both palms to allow you to get deeper into this pose.
Make sure to balance the cow face pose out by doing the other side.
4. Chaturanga Dandasana
Using a strap in this pose will help you achieve proper alignment.
Chaturanga, or “yogi push-up,” requires elbows to remain close to the ribs, arms at a 90-degree angle. The core must be engaged, navel tucked to spine, with back straight. You slowly lower into this pose with your breath while staying on the balls of your feet.
To help with alignment, pull your yoga strap through its hoops to make a circle. Place arms inside the circle and tighten it around your bicep area, strap resting on your chest. Make sure the hoop holds tight.
As you lower into Chaturanga, the strap across your chest will keep you straight and prevent collapsing as it holds your elbows close to the body.
5. Bow (Dhanurasana)
Have trouble reaching your arms back and grabbing ankles for Bow pose? A yoga strap brings you closer to yourself!
While laying on belly, bend legs and wrap the strap securely around your ankle points. Engage your core and lift up with arms behind you, so you make a bow shape. Try to rest on your hip points, keeping chest and thighs off the ground.
Using a strap can also help you learn how to “flip your grip” in this pose.
6. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
In Warrior II, arms should be in a T-shape (or slightly higher), strong and long from front to back. Shoulders should be down your back and away from your ears.
To keep arms straight, try holding a strap between both hands, strap resting behind you near the shoulder blades. This turns your Warrior’s fierceness up a notch!
7. Forearm Stand (Pincha Mayurasana)
Similar to Chaturanga, a forearm stand requires excellent alignment for safety reasons. Misalignment is injurious, especially in inversions.
For forearm stand, you’d wrap the strap around your biceps the same way you did for Chaturanga. Place forearms on the ground, fingers outstretched, strap holding your elbows close to your body.
Do any variation of forearm stand from this position.
Yoga Strap Poses for Lower Body
In these poses, we use a yoga strap on our lower body to help deepen poses or achieve proper, secure alignment. Enjoy!
8. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
One thing that prevents many yogis from getting deep in this pose is tight hamstrings. A strap can act as a guide to deepen this pose.
Sit down with legs together, stretched out long in front of you. Wrap the strap around the arch of your foot and hold it tight as you sit with a straight back. Slowly hinge from the hips (not curling the back) and pull the strap to deepen.
Hold this pose for 15-20 breaths and notice how you sleep better that night!
9. Reclining Hamstring Stretch
This simple hamstring stretch feels great and helps relieve tightness in the hamstrings (allowing you to achieve the above pose sans-strap, perhaps?).
Lay on your back with legs straight in front of you (your legs should be less than shoulder width apart). Raise one leg, wrap the strap around your foot’s arch, and pull your extended leg towards your upper body. Keep a micro-bend in the knee to avoid tearing, and pull leg closer as your body softens into the pose.
Repeat on the other side.
10. Dancer (Natarajasana)
While standing, bend one leg behind you. Wrap the strap around your ankle and gently the foot upward, as if towards your head. Stay balanced in the opposite leg by keeping a slight bend in the knee.
This is another pose you can practice flipping your grip on, too! Flipping your grip here allows you to pull the bent leg up higher behind you.
11. Hand-To-Big-Toe (Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana)
Stand in a strong mountain pose, or Tadasana. Lift one leg and wrap the strap around the ball of your foot. Using the hand on the same side, hold the strap and gently pull as you straighten your leg.
You can hold this pose with the leg floating in the air, or you can rest the raised leg on something of ample height to remain balanced. Keep your hips squared and core engaged.
Remember, like other poses on this list that work one side of the body at a time, it’s best to try the other side as well to stay in balance. Both sides will feel different, so it’s okay if one reaches farther than the other!
12. Bound Angle (Baddha Koṇāsana)
This pose with a strap can be done two ways — while in an easy-seated position, or you can hold the posture as you recline on your back (Supta Baddha Koṇāsana).
Make a large loop with your strap and place it around your entire body. Let the strap lie below the hips, framing the pelvic wall, as opposed to hugging your waist. Take the loop that’s in front of you over your ankles and tuck it under your feet.
Tighten the strap to help straighten your back and also to bring your legs closer to your body. The strap in this pose helps with both alignment and deepening.
13. Legs-Up-The-Wall (Viparita Karani)
This restorative pose is loved by many for its rejuvenating effects and simplicity. However, some yogis dislike the fact that their legs want to fall to either side while in this resting posture.
Wrap an attached strap around thighs and pull the circle tightly. Scoot your bum as close to the wall as possible and place legs against the wall, toes facing back towards your body.
The strap around your thighs will keep legs in proper alignment so you can focus on the pose.
14. King Pigeon (Eka Pāda Rājakapotāsana)
First, get into pigeon pose. One leg should be bent, knee pointing towards the outer corner of the mat, thigh underneath you, hips squared. The other leg extends long behind you.
From here, sit up with chest pressing forward, spine extended. Reach behind you while bending the extended leg towards your glutes as much as possible. Place the yoga strap around the dorsal (top) part of your foot.
Use the strap to pull your bent leg towards your body. Eventually you may be able to flip your grip here, too, and deepen the stretch even more.
Try These Om-Mazing Postures Today
As you can see, there are several wonderful uses for a yoga strap. If there is any pose that you want to deepen or fix your alignment on, a yoga strap can help you achieve that goal.
If you can think of new ways to play around with your strap, try it! Think of this list as a starting-off point.
And when you finish your practice, don’t forget to make time for meditation. Savasana or easy-seated meditation are a vital part of being a yoga practitioner.
Check out these fantastic benefits of adding mindfulness to your daily routine.