USING STRAPS WON'T HELP YOU
We often get the question, "What do you think about using props?" In general, blocks or other supportive props can be helpful when practicing postures. Straps on the other hand, can take us in the wrong direction. Here are the reasons why.
A posture is a series of muscular engagements and relaxations. Getting your body to make the shape of a posture is not the goal. Rather, using the muscles of the body effectively will give us the benefits we strive for.
When we use straps or "bind" in a pose, we usually end up using the opposite muscles of what the posture calls for.
For example, in Dancer Pose (pictured above), we need to engage the muscles in the back to create a backbend. If we use a strap, we end up pulling on the strap to lift our leg up and backbend. When we do that though, we engage the wrong muscles. Pulling on a strap will engage a combination of the triceps, abs, chest, lats, most of which must be relaxed in a backbend.
Straps can also encourage us to achieve a posture. It is definitely exciting to practice new postures, and goal setting is helpful for creating longevity in practice. But seeking to achieve a difficult physical pose is a delicate situation for the ego. If we teach our body to work well and difficult poses become accessible, that is one thing. If we look for ways to get into a pose that short circuit the strength and control necessary to do the pose, that is very different.
It is important to realize we can always practice the elements of a posture even if the full posture is not accessible.
A position like Dancer Pose incorporates balance and backward bending. Balance can be practiced in many different postures. Backbends can also be practiced in a variety of ways.
Rather than using tools to make us think we are getting closer to a pose like Dancer, practice the elements of the posture as effectively as possible. This will be beneficial and take our practice in the right direction both mentally and physically.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
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