How to Use a Yoga Strap to Straighten the Shoulders and Back
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Poor posture leading to slumping shoulders and a rounded upper back can take a toll on the rest of your body by affecting your alignment. Along with feeling tightness and pain in your shoulders and back, stress can be placed on joints like your hips and knees, which over time may possibly lead to mobility issues. Stretching with the aid of a yoga strap, which is a cotton or nylon long band used as a prop in a yoga practice, can help to loosen tight muscles and reverse forward slumping.
Warm up for five to 10 minutes before stretching with the yoga strap; stretching cold muscles can cause an injury. Perform poses from the Sun Salutation set to activate your muscles and get the blood flowing through your body. Examples include Forward Bend, Plank pose, Downward Dog, Upward Dog and Child’s pose.
Loosen your shoulders and upper back with a dynamic shoulder exercises. Sit tall on the floor or in a chair with your spine straight. Hold a yoga strap with both hands at shoulder width. Pull your stomach in and press your shoulders down your back. Hold your arms out straight in front of you at shoulder height. Lift the strap over your head, then lower it behind your head as far as possible while keeping your arms straight. Raise the strap back over your head and return to starting position. Continue the movement for 30 to 60 seconds.
Perform the standing Forward Fold to stretch the entirety of your back. Place the yoga strap under the mid-foot of both feet and hold an end in each hand. Stand with your feet together and spine elongated. Bend forward at the hips and bring your torso toward your thighs. Extend your hands toward your feet; pull on the yoga strap, gently, to deepen the fold. You should feel a stretch in your lower and upper back as well as your shoulders. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds.
Sit on the floor with your legs extended in front of you for seated Forward Fold. Loop the yoga strap around your feet and take an end in each hand. Sit up tall with your spine elongated and abs pulled in toward your lower back. Bend at the hips and bring your chest toward your thighs. Ease further into the Forward Fold by gently pulling on the yoga strap; allow your head to rest on your knees to release your neck. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds.
Breathe deeply and slowly while stretching. Inhale through your nose for a count of five and exhale through your mouth, also for a count of five.
Consult with your physician before starting a new stretching or yoga practice. Inform your doctor of any back or shoulder pain or injuries.
Beth Rifkin has been writing health- and fitness-related articles since 2005. Her bylines include "Tennis Life," "Ms. Fitness," "Triathlon Magazine," "Inside Tennis" and others. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Temple University.