Use this eight-move yoga straps for stretching routine to boost your mobility

Using yoga straps for stretching can be a great way to ease into the practice, boost your mobility, and deepen your stretches

Clare Walters performing a reclining hand to big toe pose
(Image credit: Clare Walters)

Yoga can be a great way to move your body, increase your flexibility, and boost your mobility without lots of equipment. This makes it a convenient option when you're short on time or away from home. 

It's worth investing in one of the best yoga mats if you practice regularly, but it's also common that people use props like blocks or straps to deepen their practice and safely increase their range of motion during many yoga stretches

“You can loop the straps around the soles of your feet in a seated forward fold if you can’t quite reach your toes, which makes the pose feel more comfortable and allows you to feel the hamstring stretch in a deeper way,” says Clare Walters, a Mind & Body Master Trainer at Third Space. 

“Straps can also help us to focus on getting deeper into a pose without sacrificing alignment. Most yoga classes will provide props like yoga straps (also known as a yoga belt) because it makes posture practice safer, more accessible, and more effective regardless of your range of motion and ability,” says Walters. 

Headshot of Clare Walters
Clare Walters

Clare Walters is a Mind & Body Master Trainer at Third Space and was formerly a professional dancer. She began teaching yoga and resistance training alongside her dance career, and designs her classes to be playful and challenging, while celebrating what your body can do. 

Eight-move yoga straps for stretching routine

Yoga straps are generally made of non-stretchy materials to add some resistance, but if you don't have one to hand, you could use a heavy resistance band instead. If you're not sure where to start, we asked Walters to design a short session using yoga straps for stretching to boost your mobility at home.

1. Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)

Clare Walters performing a seated forward fold

(Image credit: Clare Walters)

Forward bends can help regulate the digestive system, calm your mind and nerves, relieve headaches and menstrual cramps, and increase agility in your hips, legs, and lower back. “The strap is handy for those who find grasping their feet too difficult,” explains Walters.

Practice: Hold for 30 seconds 

Sets: 3

  • Sit on the floor with your legs straight and your spine long and strong.
  • Place your yoga strap around your feet and hold the sides with each hand then, while pressing your legs firmly down into the floor, pull on the strap as if drawing your arms back into your shoulder sockets and lift your chest as if you were trying to take your ribs above the level of your arms.
  • Next, walk your hands down the strap closer to your feet maintaining a straight back and straight legs.

2. Reclining hand to big toe pose (Supta Padangusthasana)

Clare Walters performing a reclining hand to big toe pose

(Image credit: Clare Walters)

“This yoga pose is great for stretching out the back of your legs while releasing stiffness in the lower back,” says Walters. “Use the strap to deepen the stretch gradually without putting pressure on your neck and pelvis.”

Practice: Hold for 20 seconds on each leg 

Sets: 2 on each side

  • Begin by lying on your back. Place the strap on the arch of your right foot and slowly raise your right foot towards the sky, keeping the left leg and hip connected down towards the floor.
  • Grip the strap with both hands and pull your toes towards you until you feel a stretch in the hamstrings. Flex the left foot and contract the thigh muscles to ensure your leg stays straight.

3. King pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

Clare Walters performing the king pigeon pose

(Image credit: Clare Walters)

“This exercise requires stability in your core muscle and mobility in your hip flexors and quads,” says Walters. “Using the strap during this pose will help you to get a deeper stretch in not only your quads but also open up your shoulders and chest.”

Practice: Hold for 20-30 seconds on each side 

Sets: 2 on each side

  • From a kneeling position, step one foot forward so you are in a deep lunge position. Bend the front leg down and bend your back leg and place the loop of your strap around your left foot. Hold the end of the belt in your left hand.
  • Press the top of your left foot into the strap and draw the foot in toward your head. Use your right hand for balance as you feel the stretch in your legs and shoulders. 

4. Cow face pose (Gomukhasana)

Clare Walters performing the cow face pose

(Image credit: Clare Walters)

The cow face pose stretches the deep hip rotator muscles, the glutes and the inner thighs. “You’ll also feel a relieving stretch in the shoulders and triceps as you use the yoga strap to bring your hands closer together over time,” says Walters.

Practice: Hold for 30 seconds on each arm

Sets: 2

  • Start by sitting on the floor and cross your legs so your right leg is crossed over your left.
  • With a straight back and your yoga strap in your right hand bring your right arm forward and up overhead and bend the elbow, so that your palm touches your upper back, with your strap dangling towards the floor.
  • Next, reach your left arm behind you and reach for the strap. Hold it tight and if you can, walk your hand up towards the shoulder blades to meet the right fingers, hand, or wrist.

5. Bound extended side angle (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana)

Clare Walters performing a bound extended side angle pose

(Image credit: Clare Walters)

“This move is a great shoulder and chest stretch,” says Walters. “It will also stretch and strengthen the hips and inner thighs.

“This is an advanced move, so use the strap to help keep your body in alignment while keeping your hands comfortably placed behind your back. Over time, this will advance into you being able to walk your hands towards each other using the strap.”

Practice: Hold for 20-30 seconds on each side 

Sets: 2

  • Start in Warrior II with your right knee over your right ankle and your foot pointing forwards.
  • With your left leg out straight and your foot pointing straight ahead bring your right hand down to the inside of your right thigh and lift your left arm to the sky while holding your yoga strap.
  • Bend your right arm to reach under your right leg, take the strap in your left hand and reach your left hand with your strap back and over. Reach for the other end of the strap with your right hand. Look up towards the sky and slowly walk the hands closer together if you feel like you can open your chest more.

6. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III)

Clare Walters holding the Warrior III pose

(Image credit: Clare Walters)

The Warrior III is a challenging pose as you are hinging forward at the hips, but also making sure you keep your chest high, and your body well balanced. 

“Using a yoga strap acts as support so you can focus on your alignment, and keeping your chest open. It also provides traction between your foot and your hands, so the body forms one line of energy," says Walters.

Practice: Hold for 20 seconds on each leg 

Sets: 2

  • Start with your feet together and place your strap under your left foot, grabbing the strap with your hands behind your back.
  • Shift your weight into your right leg, and begin to hinge forward until your body forms a 90-degree angle as you lift your left leg into the air.
  • Pull on your strap with your hands as you flex through the toes to help you maintain balance and support proper alignment.

7. Chaturanga

Clare Walters performing chaturanga

(Image credit: Clare Walters)

“The chaturanga requires upper-body and core strength,” says Walters. “Placing the yoga strap around your upper arms will help you to get into proper alignment by keeping your arms tucked in towards your sides and not allowing the elbows to splay out.”

Practice: Hold for 20 -30 seconds 

Sets: 2

  • Place your yoga strap above the elbows at shoulder width, making sure that the strap is taut to avoid your elbows collapsing out, then from a high plank position, shift forward before lowering down until your chest touches the strap.
  • Place your yoga strap above the elbows at shoulder width making sure that the strap is taut to avoid your elbows collapsing out, then from a high plank position, shift forward before lowering down until your chest touches the strap.

8. Forward fold with shoulder opener (Uttanasana)

Clare Walters performing a forward fold with shoulder opener

(Image credit: Clare Walters)

“This move provides a great stretch in the hamstrings and calves, as well as the neck and shoulders,” says Walters. 

“It can be difficult to practice without hunching your shoulders, especially if your neck and shoulders are tight, which is why we use the yoga strap. Holding it this way instead of clasping your hands will take any pressure off your shoulders and neck.”

Practice: Hold for 20 -30 seconds 

Sets: 2

  • Start with your feet together and take your strap behind your back into your hands. Walk your hands as close together as is comfortable then fold forward, while keeping your strap in place and lifting your arms away from your body.

These yoga straps for stretching moves are designed to help ease you into the pose and deepen your stretch, to increase the effects. This way, you get the benefits of yoga while also boosting your mobility. 

If you're after another routine to increase your flexibility, this hip mobility yoga flow is a great place to start. You don't need any equipment either, so it's a good alternative if you don't have straps nearby. 

Lucy Miller

Lucy Miller is a Journalist, Level 3 Personal Trainer, Nutritional Advisor and Children’s Fitness Specialist. She holds fitness qualifications from NASM Training and Premier Training International and has been a fitness journalist and model for over 20 years.

Since going freelance in 2014, Lucy left Men’s Fitness Magazine to write for an abundance of top consumer titles such as Women’s Health, Women’s Fitness, Glamour, Top Sante, The Guardian and Runners World. She’s also extremely passionate when it comes to educating others about health and physical activity and loves inspiring and working with children and adults to help make fitness fun, sustainable and accessible. 

In her spare time, Lucy is ever the sportswoman. Once a national gymnast, having won three national titles, she has also run a handful of marathons around the world and loves to test her physical and metal side with regular running and gym sessions, not to mention ballet, bootcamp, boxing and TRX.