10 Creative Ways to use a Yoga Strap in your Practice

Written by Tarryn James, Photos of Jess Meniere

22 September 2019

Using props in my practice has always been my favourite way to explore new sensations. While attending my 300hour Advanced Teacher Training at The Wellness Connection, we explored the use of props; from straps and blocks, to chairs and the wall. It was probably the most fun I have had in a yoga workshop!

Not only do they allow us to explore variations of postures, but they create an imprint and the opportunity to feel into new experiences. The misconception that props are only for beginners who cannot access certain postures is far from the truth. In fact, props have assisted me in moving deeper into postures and allowing me to work harder!

Here are a few of my favourite ways to use straps creatively in your practice:

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  1. SHOULDER STRAP

This supportive variation encourages an opening of the chest and drawing back of the shoulders. Great to use during seated positions or even in certain standing positions such as Mountain Pose.

How to:

  1. Take your strap around the base of your shoulder blades, along the back of your body, ends to the sides.

  2. Throw the ends of the straps over each shoulders and let it hand behind your back.

  3. Reach back to take the straps and cross them behind you, making a figure “X”.

  4. Bring the excess strap around to the front and buckle in front / simply hold the strap.


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2. SUPTA PASCHIMOTTANASANA // SUPINE HAMSTRING STRETCHES

This hamstring stretch variation is a great way to work into the backline of the body while being supported by the floor. I prefer this variation to the standard one of holding the strap in both hands. Allow the arms to relax next to the sides of the body and work to straighten the legs.

How to:

  1. Make a big loop with your strap by placing the end through the bottom part or the buckle and loop back through the top part of the buckle.

  2. Place the strap just under the shoulder blades / bra-line and then over the balls of the feet. Adjust the strap so legs can straighten.

  3. Try to position with the tail end of the strap facing downwards so you can easily adjust once you are in position.

Feeling comfortable here? Why not take the left leg out and extend to the floor. Open up your right leg to the right side for a Supta Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana B variation. Swap sides.


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3. NAVASANA // BOAT POSE

This variation of Navasana is my favourite, allowing a usually challenging pose to feel more accessible. Transition from your Supta Paschimottanasana (number 2), by bending your knees slightly and rocking up to sitting. Lean back into the strap and push through the balls of the feet to maintain your balance.

How to:

  1. Ensure the strap is supporting just under the shoulder blades / bra-line and then looped over the balls of the feet.

  2. Adjust the strap to allow legs to straighten to the best of your ability.

  3. Try to position with the tail end of the strap facing towards you so you can easily adjust once you are in position.


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4. BRAMCHARYASANA // L - SITTING

Continue working into the arms and core as you move from Boat Pose into L Sitting. This variation gives you the sensation and experience of performing an arm balance, even if your strength may not allow for it yet. Try this variation a few times and then take the strap away!

How to:

  1. Ensure the strap is supporting just under the shoulder blades / bra-line and then looped over the balls of the feet.

  2. From Boat Pose, place your legs on the floor and lean forward.

  3. Bring your hands in line with the mid-though. Push to straighten the arms as you kick your feet into the strap.

  4. Start with just lifting buttocks up and keeping feet down. Progress to lifting both buttocks and feet off the floor.


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5 & 6. PLANK - CHATURANGA DANDASANA

Workshop your chaturanga’s and build strength with this variation! I’d practice all my vinyasa’s this way if I could. The strap gives you a reminder of where “forearms distance from the ground is” so you do not lower down too low. Try hold your chaturanga’s, power up through your quad and core to make this a full body strengthener!

How to:

  1. Make a loop thats shoulder width, placing it just above your elbow creases.

  2. From plank, lock out into your strap by pushing outwards into it.

  3. Lean forwards slightly over your wrists, bend through the elbows until your chest makes contact with the straps.


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7. PARSVOTTANASANA / PYRAMIND POSE

Find a sense of “lift” in this pyramid variation that allows you to work into the hamstrings and the back line of the body, Forward fods do not necessarily hae to be passive - this variation gives you the opportunity to work more actively!

How to:

  1. Make a big loop with your strap, placing it around the base of your shoulder blades / just under your bra-line.

  2. Start from a forward fold, place one foot into the strap and step the other foot back into a pyramid pose.

  3. Instead of folding forward over your front leg, lift up and into the strap.

  4. Try to position with the tail end of the strap facing towards you so you can easily adjust once you are in position.


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8 & 9 . VIRABHADRASANA 111 / WARRIOR 3 POSE —-> STANDING SPLITS VARITATION

Find your standing balance with this variation of warrior 3. I enjoy this variation as it gives you the sensation of kicking back through the back leg, with a pull on the strap allowing for a slight lift in the chest. For me, it made the balancing a bit trickier, so ensure you have a good focus point and move steadily.

  1. Start from a forward fold. The strap is loose (no loops in the strap). Step one heel over the strap

  2. Find a slight bend in the opposite knee as you kick back into the strap and lengthen the foot in the strap behind you.

  3. Find a slight lift into the chest to make a capital “T” shape.

  4. Looking for more, start to lean forward to move into a standing splits shape, without the support of your arms. Tricky balancing so move slow and keep your focus point :)


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10. NATARAJASANA / DANCER

Have you ever had a strap sandle? This is such a fun way to move into Dancers pose while supporting the foot. You can flip your grip (as shown in the picture) or simply use your preferred variation with the arms.

How to:

  1. Create a small loop with the strap and place around your ankle.

  2. Take the tale of the strap from the ankle, through the space between big and second toe.

  3. Bring the strap to the back of the body. Lift the foot off the ground and start to kick into your strap as you make way into your dancers pose.

  4. To progress, begin to walk your hands down the strap.


Do you have any favourites? Let us know in the comments below!

Tarryn James2 Comments