How to use a yoga strap
The yoga strap is an essential tool to achieve certain positions safely, but also for strengthening muscles and flexibility. The yoga strap is part of the most used yoga props, it was invented before the yoga mat itself and is not an accessory only for beginners. In this article we can find together many interesting facts and everything you need to know about yoga straps!
How was the yoga strap invented?
You may be surprised to learn that the yoga strap was invented before the yoga mat! Yoga mat was invented in the early 80's by Angela Farmer (student of the great master B.K.S Iyengar), since in India people practiced on cotton cloths (also called Yoga Rugs,) or directly on the ground. Yoga strap, on the other hand, was invented in the 60's and therefore long before the modern yoga mat! The invention is due to B.K.S Iyengar himself. The inspiration came during a trip to France, observing the belts that were used to hold together suitcases or to carry luggage. Here's what Iyengar says about the invention:
"I thought: - This luggage belt is also good for yoga. If the bags are tied so firmly, I can use it for my legs as well.- I tried it immediately. With that grip, the belt held my legs and I could keep them in a limited space. This was the action with resistance. When I returned to France to buy them I learned that these belts were "out of fashion" and withdrawn from the market. After my return home I had belts made with those buckles here in Poone. I later began using the belt to give my muscles a sense of directionality."
MYTHS TO DISPEL: When the strap is developed, it is created to give a resistance action. B.K.S. Iyengar was the first to use it, and this makes us understand that the yoga belt is not an accessory for beginners, but rather it was born as a tool for perfecting a practitioner of the highest level, as this great Master was.
USES OF YOGA STRAP WITH EXAMPLES
In order to use your belt you must first close it properly! Here is our tutorial on HOW TO CLOSE A YOGA STRAP safely.
YOGA STRAP USES
There are several uses:
1 Resistance action and muscle strengthening
The strap in this case is used to create an action of contrast to the strength of the body. For example, in anjaneyasana yoga strap blocking the leg below the knee to the heel of the other leg ifve to contrast and contain inward the direction of the force of the lower limbs.
Doing so strengthens the thigh muscles of both legs that must push harder to face the obstacle of the resistance of the yoga strap. Very important to avoid injury remember that the yoga belt should always be passed under or over the joints, NEVER place it directly above the knee or elbow!
2 Muscle and bone directionality
This function is specific to Iyengar yoga where much attention is paid to the direction and rotation of bones and muscles. One exercise is to wear the yoga strap on your thigh before performing a pose, pulling the strap with your hand will make you aware of the rotation of your legs.
Another example is seen in Adho Mukha svanasana, the upside down dog, in which the yoga strap lifts the pelvis and with the help of gravity divides the body into two parts, making the practitioner perceive the different directions of the lower limbs pushing down while the upper limbs push up.
3 Reaching a pose safely
The yoga strap is also used to reach an asana safely. Let's not forget that you often run the risk of injuring yourself while reaching the pose by bending your back incorrectly or stretching your limbs too quickly. It allows you to support the parts of the body by performing the movements slowly, avoiding muscle strains.
Such as in the Paschimottanasana pincer pose you risk recoiling into a back strain at the lumbar level, but if you use the belt you can safely achieve the forward bend while protecting your back muscles.
4 Hold a pose for a long time
Yoga strap in this case performs a support function , as it helps to support the weight of the body, such as the leg as in the pose of Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. it supports your leg, helping the overall balance and allows you to maintain the pose longer.
Another example is the pose of resting supta baddha konasana, if we use the yoga strap around the pelvis and support the thighs with two yoga blocks we can hold this pose for many minutes. Not only will we be able to benefit from the relaxing effect of this asana, but we will also let the force of gravity allow us little by little to increase the opening of the hips and increase their flexibility in a fluid and relaxing way.
5 Limb stretching
Where the arms or legs do not reach, comes the yoga strap. This feature is not just for beginners or those who are untrained, in fact, remember that every body is different. Some people will never be able to complete certain asanas because of their specific physical characteristics and this should not be experienced as a problem. Each person according to their physical structure will find more suitable some asanas than others.
In cow snout pose, Gomukhasana, for example if a pain in the shoulder prevents the hands from touching we can use the yoga strap to achieve the same effect of opening the sternum and rotating the arms.
6 Maintain alignment and perpendicularity
The yoga strap is a good aid for alignment, it allows you to gain awareness of body position.
Once we have achieved the position and understand where exactly our leg, or arm is, we can remove it and gradually gain awareness of perpendicularity automatically without supports.
7 Increase flexibility
The yoga strap is a great ally for training flexibility. For example in the pigeon king pose, eka pada raja kapotanasana we can gradually train the flexibility of the back. It allows us to arch the back little by little.
Each time we perform this pose we can make a little progress by shortening the yoga strap we hold in our hands, until our feet touch our hands.
HOW TO CHOOSE A GOOD YOGA STRAP
SAFE BUCKLE CLOSURE : The buckle is very important, as it ensures safety during the practice. The buckle must be durable and maintain the closure of the yoga belt. The most discouraged buckles are those made of plastic that tend to break (For us at natmat26, however, plastic is banned in all its forms from yoga!), but also those in a semicircle with rings that tend to open, or too small or thin. For this reason we have made a buckle 40MM thick, almost twice as thick as the common yoga belts!
STRAP STRENGTH: The yoga belt is subjected to tearing and pulling. In addition, it must withstand the weight of the body during practice. For this reason the material from which it is made must be very resistant and must not wear out. To overcome this problem we have chosen hemp which is a very tough and durable fiber.
GRIP : The yoga strap must have a fiber that creates friction and keeps the grip firm, it should not be smooth, shiny or flat. While holding the asana we should not have the thought of having to continually strengthen our grip because we feel the belt slipping through our hands. The hemp of the Natmat26 yoga belt also responds to this need
LENGTH : depending on the exercises you need to do, you may need a standard yoga strap (normally 200 - 210 CM) or a longer 250 CM strap.
These features are part of the yoga strap Natmat26 that in addition to being functional is sustainable because it is made of hemp, a carbon negative fiber that absorbs more CO2 than it emits. Handmade in Italy the Natmat26 yoga strap is a unique accessory for your practice.
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