The Humble Yoga Strap Is Actually An Amazing Stretching Tool—This is How to Use It

Add this to your yoga toolkit.

By PelotonUpdated March 23, 2023


Everyone who practices yoga—even the most experienced—can use a little help sometimes. That’s where yoga props come in. One favorite? The yoga strap.  

Like all yoga props, a yoga strap (or stretching strap) is intended to act as an extension of your limbs, most frequently the arms, allowing you to reach farther and more securely hold complex or challenging postures. This may include poses where your arms are not quite long enough to reach, or when other parts of your body aren’t flexible enough to make contact with your hands. 

With a yoga strap, you’ll have more control and an improved ability to extend yourself, allowing you to achieve a greater range of motion and better overall flexibility. And you’ll be able to do this without hurting yourself or overstraining in the process. 

Another good thing about yoga straps? There is absolutely zero stigma about using them because even professional yogis rely on the same set of tools to help them balance, stretch and protect their bodies during practice. 

Below, we’ll cover the most-asked questions about yoga straps and share how Peloton Yoga instructors Aditi Shah and Kristin McGee use their straps to push their yoga practice forward.

Who Should Use a Yoga Strap?

So, who is a yoga strap ideal for? The short answer is: Everyone! 

With a yoga strap, beginners won’t need to strain getting into certain sitting or standing positions—at least until their bodies get stronger and more comfortable with the poses and muscle memory makes them easier to achieve. Using a yoga strap early on, when you’re a newbie to it all, can help prevent aches and pains that can be caused by overstraining. 

But yoga straps are not just for beginners. Anyone with tight hamstrings or shoulders can benefit from the assist of a yoga strap. It allows a deeper stretch without compromising your form or alignment. 

Experienced yoga-goers often rely on yoga straps to more easily achieve proper alignment for a longer and deeper stretch during especially challenging positions and movements. Yoga straps are great for helping you increase range of motion and level up your yoga practice. If you’ve plateaued and need just a little more oomph to get out of that rut and up into the next level of your health and fitness journey, try yoga straps.   

You don’t need to take it from us—here’s how Peloton Yoga instructor Aditi describes it: “Yoga props help us either to contain and set boundaries for ourselves or they act as extensions of our limbs. The most common use of the strap (in active postures) is to extend our arms for forward folds and binds. Props help me to take a step back and focus on form instead of focusing on just the deepest possible variation of a . I also use props to help me to get into s I would not otherwise be able to, as well as for therapeutic and restorative s.”

Do You Need a Real Yoga Strap?

What about using a necktie, scarf, or belt in place of a yoga strap? You certainly could. But yoga straps are specially designed for the task. They’re easy to grasp, just the right size, and are durable enough to hold you securely—and safely—during particularly tricky or difficult poses. 

A yoga strap is definitely worth purchasing, Aditi says. “It’s never going to be too short or too long, it has the appropriate buckle, and you won’t have to worry about washing it every day after it has touched your foot.” 

Kristin agrees. While both Kristin and Aditi have seen yoga strap substitutes—such as a long, thin towel rolled up lengthwise—used in their classes, purchasing a real yoga strap can provide better results. 

Where Will I Feel the Benefits of Using a Yoga Strap?

There are so many uses for a yoga strap. How you use it will determine where you feel its benefits.

For example, Aditi points out, “I personally use it most for Supta Padangusthasana, a supine hamstring stretch. It’s a wonderful and safe way to activate and warm up the legs, and it’s so healthy for the lower back as well.” 

Your yoga strap can help with a multitude of stretches—it’s not just for yoga! As Kristin says, using the yoga strap for a hamstring stretch is especially beneficial for runners and cyclists. “It’s so easy to lie down on your back and put a foot in the strap to stretch the hamstrings regularly and with good form.”

Benefits of using a yoga strap include that it:

  • Improves your flexibility. A yoga strap allows you to go deep into a pose or stretch and potentially hold it for a longer period of time. This assisted stretching improves your flexibility safely. 

  • Elevates your posture. Rather than tensing tight muscles to achieve a pose or stretch, a yoga strap allows you to get into position and release rather than tighten. By alleviating strain in tight areas, your yoga strap can help improve your posture. 

  • Facilitates correct alignment. Effective yoga means ensuring your body is aligned properly. It’s what allows you to work the correct muscles during yoga practice without injury. 

  • Helps you to stretch more. Using a yoga strap makes stretching more effective and enjoyable, making it more likely you’ll continue to regularly stretch in all the right ways. 

  • Strengthens your muscles. When you’re able to hold yoga positions and stretches for longer periods of time, you’re also strengthening your muscles. A yoga strap can help you get there faster. 

Try These Awesome Yoga Strap Stretches

Even the simplest of stretches can be difficult to hold. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time sitting or standing. Being flexible enough to stretch correctly can be challenging. A yoga strap can make it so much easier to do correctly, so you can reap the rewards of the stretch. 

Here are a few poses and stretches to try with your yoga strap:

Dancer's Pose

This is a fun one! Standing, hold both ends of the yoga strap in front of you, and step your left foot onto the strap. Cross the strap and regrip its ends. Open the right side outward and step through with your right foot, so that your left foot, with strap underneath, is now slightly behind you. With your weight on your right foot, bend your left knee, turn your palms to the sky and bring your hands upward, toward your head. Walk your hands down the strap, keeping it taught, until you feel a good stretch through your shoulders, chest, abdomen, and thighs. 

Seated Forward Bend

With both feet extended out in front of you, place the strap around the ball of one or both feet. Sit upright, holding onto the strap, then slowly lower your head toward your knee, keeping the strap taut as you bend forward. This provides an excellent stretch of the muscles running the entire length of the back of your body, including your calves, hamstrings, glutes, back and neck. 

Boat Pose

A yoga strap can really help you stay properly aligned while in boat pose, which works your core. Begin seated with your knees bent in front of you, with the soles of your feet on your mat. Place the middle of the strap under your feet. Grab the ends of the strap until it is taught. Inhale, engage your core and rock back, raising your feet up, keeping your knees bent. 

Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

Standing, place the strap under the arch of your left foot and hold both ends of the strap in your left hand. With your weight on your right foot, find your balance, then extend your left leg out and lift it up, using the strap for support. This one is especially helpful for strengthening your leg muscles and improving your balance. 

Remember: Don’t overdo it, especially if the stretch is new for you. Let your body guide you and don’t force anything, especially if it hurts. 

When in Class Should You Expect to Use a Yoga Strap?

You’ll want to keep your strap handy during yoga class. Any time there’s a position that is difficult for you to reach is when you’ll want to use it. “Any kind of bind gets easier with a strap,” says Aditi. “It can also be used to draw the arms closer together in shoulder stand, to catch the back foot and draw it towards your head in a king pigeon pose, and many other ways.” 

Kristin will bring out the yoga strap for a few other poses as well. “I use it to open the leg out to the side or across my body," she explains. "I also love to hold the strap out in front of me while seated or standing and open my shoulders by lifting my arms up and back with the strap between my hands, shoulder-width apart. The strap is great for cow face pose arms as well. I also love using the strap in dancers' poses and deeper backbends where I can’t catch my foot easily.”

Although primarily used for stretching, your yoga strap may be used to help you achieve poses at any time during your yoga class. 

What Length Should a Yoga Strap Be?

For the vast majority of people, a 6 foot long yoga strap is the ideal length. It allows you to comfortably and safely hold onto an outstretched leg, for example. Keep in mind that you will often be looping the strap through the square rings, so you’ll need enough of it at the ends that you can securely hold onto.

As far as width goes, 1.5 inches is typical for a yoga strap. It should be comfortable to grip, as well as wide enough to support your foot or hand without pinching your skin. In need of a new yoga strap? Peloton Apparel’s Yoga Strap is 6 feet x 1.5 inches, durable, and easy to store.

Are Yoga Straps Similar to Resistance Bands?

The differences between yoga straps and resistance bands are substantial. Let’s start with the biggest difference between them: resistance bands stretch. They’re designed to operate like large rubber bands, offering resistance against your muscles when stretched. With use, resistance bands will begin to wear out over time, becoming less stretchy. Resistance bands are also usually made of a thinner, more pliable material than yoga straps. Finally, due to the material they’re made of (such as rubber) as well as wear and tear, resistance bands can break. 

Yoga straps, on the other hand, are not stretchy and are much more durable, sturdy, and supportive than resistance bands.

Why Would an Advanced Yogi Use a Yoga Strap?

There are a ton of moves in which even the most advanced yoga practitioners choose to use a yoga strap. 

“In more advanced yoga postures such as forearm balance, handstand and shoulder handstand, a yoga strap looped around the upper arms can help keep the shoulder girdle activated and help with coming in to and holding these advanced arm balances longer,” Kristin says. 

That holds true in her own practice as well. 

“As a professional yogi who’s been teaching and practicing since the 1990s, I still use props in my practice to help me with alignment or to deepen a pose. Just like a runner and cyclist needs a good pair of specialized shoes to help them perform better, yoga props can enhance a yoga practice in the same way no matter what your level.”

It’s All About Personal Preferences

The most important thing to remember when you’re on your fitness journey is that every body is different. Respect yours – and make sure you’re getting the support you need, when you need it. That means using yoga straps to help you achieve a better hamstring stretch, or to get into dancer’s pose like a pro. And if you’re already a pro, you already know the power of a good yoga strap to ensure you remain in alignment as you work on lengthening and strengthening your muscles.

At Peloton, we have everything you need to take your stretching and yoga practice to the next level. Shop all Peloton accessories now, including yoga sets and yoga straps.


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