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A yoga strap is one of the many yoga accessories and it may be a particularly good one for beginning students who lack flexibility or for anyone practicing yoga that still needs work in this area. Some of the yoga poses taught in basic forms of yoga are very difficult to do properly if a person doesn’t have adequate ability to stretch. In these cases, the yoga strap may be employed to allow people to take a modified pose that still allows for plenty of body work and stretch, with much less potential for injury.
Most yoga straps are between six to nine feet (1.83-2.74 m) long and are made in materials like cotton, or are alternately made of hemp. Taller people may want to look for those straps that are in longer lengths, but many find a six-foot strap adequate. The majority of straps are not greatly expensive and are slightly more or less than $10 US Dollars (USD).
A lot of the commercially made yoga strap types feature some form of a buckle, much like a very long belt, which allows for connecting the two ends of the strap together for work in certain poses. Alternately, people may just hold each end of the strap below the buckle to help enhance stretch. One common use is when the hands are connected behind the back in various positions. These poses can be hard to maintain, and the arms can be adjusted to more comfortable positions when the hands hold the strap at a distance apart from each other, instead of interlocking.
An asana that is difficult for many beginners, and that can still prove challenging for intermediate and advance students is forward sitting bend. The goal of this pose is to bend with a flat back forward so that the hands are stretched out directly over the feet. Many people have very tight hamstrings, and are only able to bend slightly forward at the waist when the legs are outstretched in front.
Using a yoga strap can help in forward sitting bend, can definitely deepen stretch, and may make this pose more simple to perform. Part of the strap is looped around the middle of the feet and the person holds onto the two strap ends while bending the back forward. Many find they are able to stretch more effectively with the strap than without it, and ultimately find themselves improving their flexibility and ability to approximate the pose in its more advanced form.
Though a yoga strap is not very expensive, some people may want to try a few poses with one before they buy one. A few things that can be used instead include straps from tote bags, dog leashes, or long belts. Yoga instructors may also have straps for use in classes, and may feature some for sale. After trying a few poses with a yoga strap, most people will be convinced that these truly are a valuable part of yoga practice. If yoga instructors don’t have them for sale, look for them at sporting good stores, dance and yoga shops, and online stores that sell yoga gear.
Yoga straps are also a great prop to have for modifying postures when you're injured, too. Yoga studios--especially those that teach Iyengar yoga--often keep extras on hand for yogis. I agree that yoga straps aren't not too expensive, but you could also use a long towel for certain poses if you don't have one handy.
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