Needed accessories or props to enhance the poses in yoga routines have become more popular as this form of exercise and stretching. Some of these props include yoga straps, blocks, mats and blankets or pillows.
The use of props allow for more freedom of movement or deeper stretches. They also help with poses that are more difficult. Even guru yogis use straps, blocks and mats. And don't' worry if you haven't yet purchased a yoga strap, a towel that is sturdy and of a longer length can be used.
Using props in these routines is not hard to learn. Yoga straps are mostly used for stretching to assist with obtaining full range of motion. Many sitting poses that stretch the legs can be enhanced with the use of a strap. Placing it under the instep and grabbing both ends toward you, pulling gently as you lean into the pose will gain further movement into the pose.
Yoga straps can be adjusted to your specific level by either shortening or lengthening the strap with your hands. These poses and stretches are good for alleviating tension and gaining flexibility.
Yoga blocks and yoga mats are sometimes used with the straps to adjust your position for ease of movement and to alleviate strain on body parts coming in contact with the floor. They are placed under the buttocks, hips or knees depending on the type of pose.
To improve balance and tighten core muscles, the yoga strap is used in poses while standing upright as well. For example, place your feet about shoulder width apart, then standing tall, lift one leg up, putting the strap around your instep. Then straighten the same leg out in front of you, pulling gently against the strap as you feel a tight stretch. Hold this pose for several seconds, up to a minute and then alternate legs.
A yoga strap can be used for the arms as well. Place the strap behind your back and grab it from above your head with one hand and from behind your lower back with the other. Pulling in opposite directions, the arms receive an intense stretch. Alternate arms several times, holding for several seconds on each side.
Though yoga straps are used for all levels from beginners to advanced students, never stretch so far that you feel pain. The stretch should be as far as you are comfortable, but still feel effort. Many yogis call the correct position as being comfortably uncomfortable.