30/100 ~ How to use a yoga strap for a hamstring stretch. Tight hamstrings can be the culprit for low back and hip pain. Using a yoga strap to aid in the stretching of hamstrings helps create stability in the pose and offers proper alignment. If you don’t have a yoga strap, you can use a belt or tie instead.

Benefits: This pose stretches the hamstrings, feet and ankles, and relieves sciatica, hip and back pain. Alignment in the upper body helps strengthen the arms, shoulders and upper back. This pose also balances the kidney meridian where fear and anxiety is held, therefore inviting a sense of peace, calm and courage.

Note: We never force or struggle when we use straps. Straps are easier to hold onto if you wrap them once around each hand.

How to: Recline onto your back, bend both knees and place your feet on the floor. Lift your left foot and place the middle of the strap just below the toes. Extend the left foot toward the ceiling and hold on to each end of the strap. The elbows should remain bent with a gentle tugging going on in the arms. Press through the heel of the extended foot and draw the toes toward your face. There’s effort in the arms as the strap is gently pulled, but you should be able to relax your shoulders and jaw while keeping a deep and steady breath. If it feels ok for your low back, you can extend the right leg and relax it on your mat, or feel free to keep the knee bent to protect yourself. Enjoy this stretch for 6-10 breath cycles, then switch sides and stretch your other leg.

Mantra: “I keep returning to these poses with a sense of curiosity and playfulness.