For the last few weeks I’ve been strap-happy – deeply in love with the simplest and most economical of yoga props.
In every practice I do at least one pose, and often more, with a strap wrapped around one upper thigh. On strap extravaganza days, I wrap both thighs.
Getting a good strong rotation into your hip creases and upper thighs is a key part of many poses.
With the strap, I get a strong rotation that helps me clarify and deepen the work in my hip joints.
And when I take the straps off – bonus – the memory of the strap stays in my body, and carries itself into related poses all through my practice.
Today’s strap tip focuses on triangle pose, but you don’t need to stop there. Once you understand how to use the strap, you can play with it in many poses.
The rule is simple: if you want to rotate your thigh outward, start with the loop on the inside of your thigh.If you want to rotate your thigh inward, as, for example, the back thigh in warrior I, start with the loop on the outside of your thigh.
Here’s how to use a strap in triangle pose (Utthita Trikonasana):
Make a small loop in one end of your strap.
Put the loop on the inside of your thigh.
Pass the tail of the strap through the loop, and pull back against the loop. Wrap the top three inches of your upper thigh, starting at the hip crease. Make the strap tight enough that you feel a strong outward rotation. Then, for easy access, tuck the end of the strap into the left side of your waistband.
Take a wide stride with your right heel on the floor, right toes up the wall.
Stand tall. Bring your ribcage to face forward, so your chest is on a side plane in the pose.
Reach your left hand behind, and hold the strap as close to your right hip as you can. Pull the strap out to the right, and back toward your buttocks.
Begin to hinge at your hip crease. Reach your right arm up the wall.
Move your buttocks away from your waist. From your left buttock, press down into your left heel.
Continue to pull the strap to the right and back. From the fixed point of the strap, rotate your right rib cage up towards the ceiling. Your left shoulder will roll back into line with your right shoulder.
Hold for several quiet, relaxed breaths.
Now come into triangle pose on the right without the strap.
Using the memory of the strap at your right thigh, rotate the hip crease to the right and back.
Without losing the rotation of your right thigh, use the memory of the strap to rotate your left hip crease to the left.
Next week we’ll look at how to use a strap in half-moon pose.
In the meantime, do you have a favorite strap trick? Do tell.
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