How to Use a D-Ring Yoga Strap
You might have seen your yoga teacher pass out a few long straps with metal buckles out to various students at the start of class. Don't be intimidated by the prop -- D-ring yoga straps are actually meant to make your yoga practice easier and more fulfilling by helping you achieve proper alignment and improving your posture. The next time your yoga teacher asks if anyone wants a strap, proudly reach for one, knowing that you're going to get a great yoga workout with the help of a nylon strap.
Prep your yoga strap before class starts. A yoga strap comes undone, with a double D-ring at one end. Thread the non-ring end of the strap through both rings and then fold the loose end back on itself. Thread the end back through the second D-ring only and tighten to your desired loop size. The preparation technique makes it easy for you to adjust the strap for various poses and alignments.
Utilize the D-ring strap to help you keep your back flat during poses. Posture and alignment is of utmost important in yoga, and you might find yourself getting sloppy in order to achieve a certain pose. For instance, when in Full Boat pose, it's common to accidentally hunch the back in order to hold the pose. Instead, wrap the strap around the soles of your feet and then use it as leverage to keep your back flat during the pose by pulling back on the strap.
Deepen your usual stretching routine by using a D-ring strap. Adjust the strap to give yourself plenty of slack and then try improving your Seated Forward Fold stretch. With your sit bones planted firmly in the mat and your legs straight out in front of you, loop the strap around your soles and pull gently with your arms to bring your torso closer to your lap for a deeper stretch.
Allow your strap to give your body extra length so you don't injure yourself. It's tempting to try all of the various poses in class, but if your body isn't properly conditioned, your strap can help give you more reach. For instance, if you're attempting Big Toe pose, yet can't reach your big toes with a straight back, use the strap to give your arms extra length by wrapping the strap around your big toes and attaining a more comfortable stretch instead. In yoga, the technique is more important than the depth of the pose.
Stabilize your body and improve your overall alignment by using a strap to remind you of the proper posture. If you have trouble remembering that your hands should be directly under your shoulders during Plank and Chaturanga, try adjusting your strap to give you the proper distance between your hands. Then, when you plant them as you step into Plank, you can easily remember the perfect distance between your hands for a proper Plank pose.
Stop using your strap if it causes you pain. Never force your body into a pose using a strap as an aid. Yoga should never hurt -- instead, bring yourself to a comfortable but challenging level using your strap and stop if that challenge becomes painful.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.