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Yoga Straps

  • Yoga Strap: Open Your Shoulders in Gomukhasana

    Use a Yoga Strap for a Great Shoulder Opening Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) is a staple in my morning yoga classes. Years ago, several of my students made up unflattering names for it—Cow Pie, Mad Cow, etc.—because it was so challenging for them. Now those same Cow Face naysayers have turned into Cow Face converts, even sometimes giving up a bit of their Savasana to do it if I don’t offer it in class. Gomukhasana is quite complex. It’s classified as a hip opening pose, as it stretches all the glutes—maximus, medius and minimus—as well as the piriformis and the...

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  • Bound Angle Pose: Support Your Spine with a Yoga Strap

    Bound Angle Pose: Use a Yoga Strap to Support Healthy Sitting I was first introduced to poses associated with yoga in grade school, when my sisters and I took ballet lessons. I remember practicing Baddha Konasana—called “Butterfly” in girls’ ballet classes—every day. With ballet’s emphasis on turnout, Butterfly is one of its important warm-up exercises. Practicing Baddha Konasana requires and develops outward rotation of the hip joints—that is, if the hip joints are shaped in such a way that outward rotation is even possible. The pose develops outward rotation by stretching the adductors (the muscles that draw the leg in...

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  • Use a Yoga Strap for Happy Hamstrings

    Supta Padangusthasana with a Yoga Strap Supta Padangusthasana is hands-down my favorite pose for addressing tight hamstrings. It’s also the safest in that it’s the least likely to irritate cranky low backs. Lying down to stretch your hamstrings gives you a constant reference point (the floor) to ensure you’re maintaining healthy spinal alignment. Using a Yoga Strap lets you to find the perfect angle for your leg that allows you to keep it straight while keeping the rest of the body in structural integrity. Lying down, in itself, allows you to release tension more easily since most of your body...

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  • Yoga Straps: Forward Bend with Ease

    Use a Yoga Strap to Maintain a Healthy Spine in Seated Forward Bend Even if you’re flexible, it’s not that easy to maintain your spine’s natural curves when you sit in Dandasana (Seated Pose). As with every pose, there are as many variations as to how Seated Pose will look as there are people. Dandasana, despite the fact that it looks simple, is challenging for almost everyone. At least, it’s challenging for almost everyone to practice it in a way that supports a healthy spine. This is because it’s not actually natural to sit with your legs straight in front...

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  • Supta Padangusthasana: Sustainable Stretching

    Supta Padangusthasana: Sustainable Stretching There are many reasons people decide to start practicing yoga. For me, it was simple curiosity, at least at first. Many of my students come to yoga to bring some calm to their lives. Some want to increase flexibility. A healthy percentage of my students originally came to practice hoping to resolve a physical issue, especially back pain. Whatever your intention, practicing yoga can indeed confer these benefits, along with other unexpected rewards. This month’s pose is one of my favorites for increasing mobility, helping alleviate back pain, and for helping connect students to the present...

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  • Talasana: Sway Like a Palm Tree

    January signifies new beginnings, a fresh, new, canvas on which to paint our intentions. The new year often inspires a commitment to living a healthier lifestyle, including caring for our bodies, stimulating our minds and seeking new, revitalizing experiences, or experimenting with balancing what we already do with practices that complement our lives. The key is patience. Changes, big or small, take time. It takes time to form new habits. While you may feel the urge to jump into your new regimen with both feet, sometimes it’s wise to start by dipping a few toes in first. If you’re thinking...

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  • Advanced Yoga — with Yoga Props

    How Using Yoga Props Deepens Practice Not too long ago, yoga made it into The Wall Street Journal. The article, titled “In Yoga, Blocks and Straps Get More Respect,” plugs yoga props as a way for anyone, including experienced practitioners, to deepen their practice while maintaining integrity. While acknowledging the mainstream misconception that many yogis see props as “crutches” to use until you can do the poses without them, the author debunks the notion by giving examples of ways experienced yogis use them move more deeply into practice. To this, I say, “Amen.” Some of my students have been attending...

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  • Yoga Strap: Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

    Using a Yoga Strap in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (UHP) is one of a class of poses my students call “flying poses.” Flying poses are the ones that feel as if they’re expanding your body to its outer reaches. When you’re practicing UHP, or any of the other flying poses, you may even feel that your body is on the barest edge of spontaneously taking flight. It feels fantastic. All too often though, in UHP we’re working so hard to grasp the foot with our hand that we end up contracting inward rather than expanding outward. If our...

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  • Yoga Props: Bolsters and Blankets and Blocks, Oh My!

    How to Use Your Yoga Props Blankets and bolsters and blocks, oh my! Wedges and straps and mats, oh my! You’ve probably seen them all, in photos or in your local studio or gym. But what are you supposed to do with them? If you attend an Iyengar, Kripalu, Anusara, Viniyoga or Restorative class, you probably have a good idea how to use at least some of them. Other classes, such as Power, Ashtanga, Jivamukti, Vinyasa and Hot Yoga might also employ yoga props here and there. But there are so many choices. That’s why we’ve published our Yoga Prop...

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  • Hasta Padangusthasana - Time to Fly

    Last month I wrote about Garudhasana (Eagle Pose), a pose that honors Garuda, the eagle god whose 40-mile wingspan caused hurricanes and dried up the oceans whenever he took flight. Garudhasana spreads our wings (shoulderblades) and our deep hip rotators, preparing us for flight. In a sense it is a jumping-off point for the expansion that April—derived from the Latin word aperire, meaning “to open”— symbolizes. This month’s pose, Utthita Hasta Pangusthasana (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose) expresses the unfurling of our bodies to take flight. Utthita Hasta Padanghustasana (utthita=extended, hasta=hand, padangusthasana=big toe pose) does not have Garudhasana’s colorful...

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