A yoga belt is probably the most misunderstood prop in the range of world of yoga. Some of the most common questions we get are “ I am a beginner, do I need a yoga belt already? I am an advanced practitioner so should I get the 9 ft belt? What poses can the yoga belt be used in? “ With this 3-part series on use of yoga belts, we hope to help you understand the yoga belt better and find ways to enhance your practice using one.
In this first part we focus on using the belt to unlock the benefits of 4 poses that challenge your flexibility. Go deeper with a sharper alignment and the extra length that the belt provides while releasing muscle tightness.
This really simple pose can have a powerful impact in your body if done right. It strengthens and improves flexibility in the inner thighs, groins and the knees. It also helps to sooth menstrual discomfort and digestive complaints.
But a tight groins or a stiff back can make it challenging to maintain this pose for more than a few seconds. The feet start to slip away and the back begins to round at the base.
Using the belt in this posture can help support the lower back while creating a bind to hold the feet close to the groin, allowing for a deeper hip stretch.
1. Start in a seated position, take your knees our and join your feet together.
2. Loop the yoga belt through the buckle and slip it through the top body. Fix the belt at the back at your sacrum and in the front around your feet.
3. Now tighten the belt until you feel a comfortable pull on your heels and lower back, almost like a traction.
4. Allow your feet to come closer towards you to deepen the stretch while supporting your lower back.
5. Hold for 8-10 breaths and release.
6. Use a block to sit on if your back is rounding and you are struggling to stay erect.
This pose is a variation of the standing big toe pose. Even though the reclined version makes it more accessible, tight hamstrings and shoulders still make it challenging to hold the big toe with the hand.
Using the yoga belt in this posture can allow the extra length the arms need and helps to stretch the hamstrings and calves without any injury.
1. Lie down on the yoga mat on your back with both feet together.
2. Bend the right knee and loop the belt around the foot by placing it in the middle of your arch.
3. Hold both ends of the best in either palm and straighten the leg by taking your foot towards the roof. Make sure that the left leg is also straight and down on the mat.
4. Once the lifted leg is straight, maintain that and try and pull the leg closer to your face till you can feel the stretch in your hamstrings and calves.
5. Hold for 6-8 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Dhanurasana is a back bending posture which increases your spinal flexibility and strength. Its a great pose for beginners to prepare for backbends and improve shoulder mobility. However, tight shoulders, quads, weak glutes or back can prevent us from reaping the benefits of this pose.
Using the yoga belt in this posture provides the range of movement needed to gently ease into this pose and go deeper with time.
1. Lie down on your stomach on the yoga mat. Take a deep breath as you lift your head and chest up slightly from the floor.
2. Hold the strap with both palms behind you and loop your strap around your ankles, hold on to both ends of the strap and start inching your hands closer to your feet.
3. Now exhale, tighten your thighs and raise your knees higher above the floor, pulling your chest up off the floor at the same time while continuing to inch closer to your hands on the strap closer to your feet.
4. Try to hold this posture for 20 seconds, and gradually increase the time and reduce the length of the belt.
Paschimottanasan or the seated forward fold provides a deep stretch for entire back side of body from the heels to the neck. Forward fold calms the nervous system and emotions and stimulates the reproductive and urinary systems. However this can be especially challenging for beginners with tight hamstrings and spine. This leads to poor posture with rounded backs because they are trying to reach their hands to touch their feet or legs and lack length.
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