AMANDA ZABAT
Asana 101
September 21, 2018

BUCKLE UP: USE YOUR YOGA STRAP TO GROUND AND STABILIZE IN STANDING POSES

buckleUp Cover2

Standing poses are an essential part of your yoga practice. They play a fundamental role in preventing injuries and also help in rehabilitating injuries in the feet, ankles, knees and hips because they strengthen and stabilize your legs and your hips.

In this article, find the connection between your feet and hips and explore different ways to use your yoga strap to improve your posture (Buckle Up Series Part 1) or  to help ground and stabilize in standing yoga poses.

What you need:

  • 2 yoga straps (Buy here!) or a neck tie / long towel
  • A chair or 2 yoga blocks

Before you start:

Make a loop with the strap that measures the distance between the sole of your foot and the top of your hip. If using a necktie or a towel, tie a knot to create a loop.

Note: You always have the option to adjust the size of the loop especially when the strap becomes too tight. Prevent the metal buckle from touching your skin so that it doesn’t bite.

1

SUPTA PADANGUSTASANA  (Supine Hand to Big Toe Pose)

supta4

Getting into the pose:

Lie on your back with both knees bent. Hug your left knee to your chest and use your pre-looped strap to catch the base of your left foot. Hook the other end of the loop to the top of your right thigh as close as you can to your hip crease. Slowly straighten the left leg forward. Lift your right foot up to the ceiling. If you have another strap, use it to clasp the toe mounds of your right foot.

Supta1

Supta2

Supta3

Staying in the pose:

Firm the back of your left thigh down on the mat and press the base of your left toes on the strap to lengthen the left leg. Allow the strap to pull the right hip down and away from your shoulders. Notice the space created in the right side of your waist. The strap will give your right hip feedback to hug in towards your left inner thigh. Stay here for three-five breaths. Switch sides.

2

TADASANA (Mountain Pose)

Tadasana

Getting into the pose:

Stand with your feet parallel to each other, about hip-width distance apart. Grab your strap and step the base of your toes on top of the strap. Walk your hands down the strap until it becomes taut to help set your shoulders down.

Staying in the pose:

Ground the base of your toes and heels down. Observe the concept of root and rebound: The more you root your feet down on the floor, the easier it is to lengthen the legs, chest and crown on the head up into the sky. Notice if the ribs puff forward and if they do, hug them in back to your spine.

3

VIRABHADRASANA II (Warrior II)

Warrior II

Getting into the pose:

Start in Tadasana, place the strap in front of you. Loop the strap on the base of your left toes, step your left foot back and swivel your left heel at an angle down on the mat. Hook the other end of the strap on your right hip crease.  Bend your right knee and stack it on top of your ankle. Open your chest to the left side of your mat with arms raised in a letter ‘T’.

Staying in the pose:

Emphasize putting more weight on the back foot and feel how that pulls the right hip back. Notice if the strap feels tight on your right outer hip and if it does, try hugging the right hip to your midline. Ground both feet and shoot your chest up. Stay here for three to five breaths before you switch sides. Step forward into Tadasana after.

4

ASHTA CHANDRASANA (High Lunge)

lunge

Getting into the pose:

From Tadasana with your feet hip-width distance apart, place the strap in front of you. Loop the strap on the base of your left heel and step your left foot back. Stay on the ball of your left foot. Hook the other end of the strap on your right hip crease and bend your right knee on top of your ankle. Reach both arms up to the ceiling.

Staying in the pose:

Similar to Virabhadrasana II, emphasize rooting down on the back foot. Press your left heel back against the strap and firm your left thigh up towards the sky. Feel how that sets the right hip back and down to keep both hips levelled.  Draw the lower belly in and lengthen the tailbone down. Reach your chest and arms away from the floor.  Stay here for three to five breaths before you switch sides.

5

UTTHITA PADANGUSTASANA (Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose)

Utthita Padang

Getting into the pose:

From Tadasana, step the base of your left toes on the strap. Lift right knee up to the same height as your hip and hook the strap on right hip crease. Stay here or have the option to straighten the right leg forward. You have the option to use a second strap to loop on the base of the right toes as you straighten the leg forward. After three to five breaths, repeat on the other side.

Utthita Padang2

Staying in the pose:

For the standing leg, step the base of your toes and your heel as evenly as you can on your mat. Notice where you usually put most of your weight and counteract that to find stillness and balance. Again, feel the feedback from the strap to prevent the right hip from hiking up.

Troubleshooting:

    • Pay attention to how you bear weight on your standing foot. Ground through the big toe mound if it starts to lift up, and vice versa if it’s the mound of the pinky toe that lifts up.
    • If the strap on the outer hip tightens, hug the outer hip to the inner thigh of the standing leg. Most likely your lifted hip is hiking up and this needs to hug in to the midline to level the hips and to provide stability.

6

VIRABHADRASANA I (Warrior I)

warriorI

Getting into the pose:

From Tadasana with your feet hip-width distance apart, place the strap in front of you. Loop the strap on the base of your left foot and step your left foot back. Step your back foot about two to three inches to the left before you swivel the heel down. Fasten the other end of the strap on your right hip crease and bend your right knee on top of your ankle.

Staying in the pose:

Similar to Virabhadrasana II, emphasize rooting down on the back foot. Press your left heel back against the strap and firm your left thigh up towards the sky. Feel how that sets the right hip back and down to keep both hips levelled. Draw the lower belly in and lengthen the tailbone down.

Troubleshooting:

Notice if your front knee collapses in or collapses out. Observe where you place the weight on your front foot and try to even out the distribution of weight on all corners of your foot.

7

PARSVOTTANASANA  (Pyramid Pose)

Parsvo2

Getting into the pose:

Set up the same way as Vira I. Straighten the right leg and hinge from the right hip crease as you fold halfway.

Staying in the pose:

Parsvo

Prioritize grounding the back foot down on the mat and allow the right hip to move back with the strap. Hug the right hip into your left inner thigh. Brace the lower belly into your spine and lengthen the top of your chest away from your hips. Think of your back foot and the middle of your chest as two points that want to move away from each other to introduce more length and space in your spine. 

Troubleshooting:

    • Very similar to the previous standing poses, try to evenly press the inner foot and outer foot down on your mat.
    • Start with placing your hands on your hips, option to progress by: a) placing hands on top of chairs or blocks; b) placing hands together in prayer position in front of your chest; or c) reaching both arms forward.  If at any point you feel rounding in the spine, scale back on the arm position. As you change the position of your hands, bring awareness back to how your ground your feet on the mat and how you position your hips so that they are trying to level.
    • Feel free to shorten stance and if too taxing on the hamstring of the front leg.

8

VIRABHADRASANA III  (Warrior III)

warrior3

Getting into the pose:

From Parsvottanasana, hands can be on hips, a chair, or on blocks, bend the front knee and start shifting the weight to your front foot and leg. Swivel the back heel up so that you are balancing on the ball of the back foot. As you shift forward, keep pressing your back foot against the strap to keep it snug as you lift the back leg up. Keep pointing the back foot down to the ground.

Staying in the pose:

Evenly distribute the weight on the inner and outer corners of your front foot. The strap provides the sensation of rooting and rebounding: press your lifted foot against the strap so you can reach the top of the chest away from your foot. Allow the lifted hip to move in the same direction as the strap and consciously hug the lifted hip into the inner thigh of the standing leg.

Troubleshooting:

    • When wobbly, pay attention to what grounds you to the floor. Notice your tendencies when it comes to bearing weight on the standing foot. Do you put more weight on the outer foot? If yes, then focus on placing more weight on the big toe mound; do the opposite action if you tend to dump weight on the inner foot

Standing poses place emphasis on the physical and mental aspects of grounding and balance: skills that can be useful to how you live your life on and off the mat. It’s understandably frustrating when balance doesn’t come easily but do know that it’s in the wibbles and wobbles where you learn your tendencies to understand what you need to adjust (be it in physical action or in mind set) to find stability.

** Get your 2-in-1 Yoga Mat Strap at fluxmovementph.wordpress.com
for only Php 250. Follow on Instagram @fluxmovmentph

Amanda-Zabat

Amanda Zabat is one of Urban Ashram Yoga’s resident restorative yoga teachers, helping her students find maximum relaxation. She also teaches FNR and vinyasa classes.  Amanda has also released her own activewear brand called Flux Movement Follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fluxmovementph/

Conversations