Props are for students who can’t do the “full pose”, right? Wrong! Rather than being training wheels for beginners to rely on, yoga props can deepen our practice in unexpected ways. The addition of a prop to a familiar pose can completely change our experience; rather than falling back on our old habits, the prop can highlight new areas for focus. Rather than being just a stepping stone for new students, smart use of props can refine our practice. But don’t take my word for it; try these ten tips to see how the simple addition of a yoga strap can change your practice for the better.
1. Shoulder Circles
This is a fantastic shoulder warm-up, perfect to use early in practice to open your chest for better range of motion and deeper breathing. It’s also excellent preparation for overhead stretches (like Urdhva Dhanurasana or Wheel) and overhead binds.
Try it: Find a comfortable upright seat. Measure a length of strap from your nose to one hand and hold with between both hands in front of you. With your inhalation circle the strap overhead, lengthening your grip, if required, to allow both shoulders to glide through simultaneously. On your exhalation, take the strap behind you, feeling a stretch across your chest and shoulders. Next inhalation bring the strap overhead again, and exhale to guide it back down in front of you. Take 10-12 shoulder circles, feeling increasing warmth and fluidity with every round.
About the Author
Rachel Land is a Yoga Medicine instructor who teaches vinyasa and one-on-one yoga sessions in Queenstown, New Zealand and works internationally as a Yoga Medicine teacher trainer. Passionate about gaining real-world benefits from her studies in anatomy and alignment, she uses yoga to help her students create strength, stability and clarity of mind. Rachel has completed her 500-hour yoga teacher training with Tiffany Cruikshank and Yoga Medicine and is currently working toward her 1000hr certification.