The following sequence is a full body flow with lots of incorporated options to utilize your strap. Recently, I have noticed the use of yoga props has somehow become a bit of a taboo topic. From teachers not bringing up the possible use of props other than for those who “can’t” do a pose in full expression. To students looking with disappointing eyes to the newbie on the mat to their left because they need a block for warrior three. Yikes! Not everywhere and not with everyone of course, but I think we need to start incorporating props into our poses and classes as much as we can. In our goal-driven, miss independent (thank you, Kelly Clarkson) society, it’s our first nature to push ourselves, to not accept help and to fake it til’ we make it to “success”. But is it really success when you forced something to happen? Wouldn’t it feel better to let your practice (and your life) unfold organically as you cultivate the balance between ease and effort?
Well I’m here to set you free from that “push it – pu-push it real good” mentality for the 60-75 minutes you spend on your mat! Props are tools, meant to help us develop a deeper connection to our truest needs and to view ourselves honestly in the place we are in. Only when we are able to observe our bodies and minds as they are, can we propel ourselves forward into greater growth. So yes, a strap is REQUIRED for this practice. It’s your new BFF, there to help you go deeper into relaxation and intensity, there to support you when you feel alone, and there to facilitate the hope for rest and peace in your practice. If you have two straps available to you, grab both of them!
NOTE: If you are practicing at home and don’t have a yoga strap, you could use something as simple as a scarf or dress tie, if it needs to be longer – you can just tie two together as needed!
Begin in easy seated pose (5m) – Take time here to observe and set a rhythm with your breath, seal in an intention, and clear the slate for your practice. You set aside this time, so put your phone away and soak it up.
Shoulder Stretch (2m upright, 3m to side) – Begin by patting yourself on the upper back with one hand (with strap in tow), take the opposite hand to the strap around the sacrum region of the low back and add a gentle pull on the strap until the sensation is enough in the top arm/shoulder. After 2 minutes, bring a block out to the side with the lifted arm. Drop the elbow out to the block and relax the other arm on the head (releasing muscle activation). Focus on rooting down through the opposite hip and observing the stretch fromt he hip up to the arm of the side body.
Lift Arms (5b) – After 3 minutes, gentle rise up off the block and lift the arms above the head. You can widen the hands a bit more than shoulder distance and then let your arms fall back until you feel a good amount of sensation. Pause and breath for 5 breaths.
*repeat on other side*
Move through a few rounds of cat and cow to loosen up the spine (5-10b)
Low Lunge (2m) – Lizard Lunge (3m) – From table top, step one foot forward in between the hands. Scoot your back knee back a little bit and pad it if it is sensitive. Pause in this position for the first 2 minutes. If you find the initial sensations have begun to settle after 2 minutes, you can take both hands to the inside of the foot for lizard pose, moving down as feels appropriate for your body. Breathe here for 3 more minutes.
Half Hero Fold (4m) – From lizard, walk the foot back in between the hands and begin to shift your hips back as you straighten the front leg. Pause about half way and place a block to the inside of the back ankle. Continue to sit into half hero pose. You may not need the block there so you can remove it if you have healthy knees/ankles.
Take your strap and make a large loop. Wrap it around your low-mid back and around the sole of the front foot. You’ll have to play around with how tight it is depending on your flexibility. Take a moment with the strap in place and maybe set a block to the inside of the front leg. Over the course of the next few breaths, find your way to a forward fold. You can certainly bend the knee to help the hamstring feel supported and not strained.
Pigeon with Quad Release (3m) – Remove your props and set them to the side as you gently press back to your lunge at the top of the mat. Once there, walk the foot across and set down the shin to come into half pigeon. Take a few breaths upright, perhaps using a block or blanket under the hip for support, and then eventually lift the back foot and bring the strap (un-looped) around the shin and into either hand. Take a few breath to guide your chest forward over the front leg and drawing the back heel in toward the glut. Eventually you can release the strap and surrender completely into the pose.
Alternatively, you could do reclined pigeon with the strap supporting the supporting hamstring.
*repeat three poses on other side*
Seated Forward Fold (5m) – Similar to how you set up in hero pose, take the strap around the back and soles of both feet, placing a block on the shins to support the forehead. Take a few breaths to guide yourself into the fold, relaxing the shoulders and allowing the upper back to gently round if you’d like.
Butterfly (5m) – Keep the strap as it is from your forward bend and draw your knees up and then out wide with the soles of the feet still together. Adjust the strap to a smaller loop and then take your time folding forward.
Reclined Butterfly (3m) – Rise back up from your fold and begin to lower back to the forearms then all the way to the spine. Walk your feet forward until the strap firmly supports your legs and hips in the pose. This is a great moment to take a hand to the heart and belly and reconnect with an intention for your practice.
Supported Bridge (3m) – Rise up from reclined butterfly enough to pull the strap off and wrap it around the thighs at hips distance. Make sure you have a block at your side as you come back down to the spine. Begin to press into the feet and lift the hips until you can place the block under your sacrum (at the appropriate level for you). Then rest and breathe.
Outer Hip Release (2m) – Supine Twist (4m) (two straps optional) – If you have two straps, you will take the first one around your right thigh (at hip crease) and the sole of your left foot (extended forward). The second strap, you will take to the right foot and low back. If you just have one strap, leave out the first option. Pause with your right leg straight up for a few breaths, then gently turn the right toes to the left (about 45 degrees). Rolling that top leg over to a hover. Hold and breathe there for 2 minutes.
Transition that leg all the way down to the left side, arms wide like a T and gaze may fall to your right. Rest into the pull of gravity here for 4 minutes.
*repeat on other side*
Supported Knees to Chest (3m) – Release the straps from the twist and make a smaller loop in one strap to take around your shins (with your knees in your chest) as well as low back. Pull it tightly until your body curls into a supported little ball.
Remove the strap completely and find a comfortable resting pose for Savasana. Remain there for 5-7 minutes to soak up all the goodness that you were able to create with your practice.
Comments? Questions? Send them my way! I’m happy to help.