If you’ve ever taken a restorative yoga class, you know it can be magical. Talk about a simple practice of self-care! Restorative yoga stimulates your rest-and-digest response—the opposite of the highly-stressed, fight-or-flight state in which you likely spend too much time—slows your heart rate and breath, and inspires a feeling of deep relaxation.
Yet practicing restorative yoga at home can be daunting if you don’t have multiple bolsters, blankets, blocks, and other yoga props. (And if you’re a teacher, a studio’s lack of props can prevent you from teaching some deeply restorative poses that you might otherwise like to incorporate into your classes.) That’s why I created this restorative yoga sequence, which uses just one simple prop: a strap.
The use of props in a restorative yoga practice makes the practice significantly more effective. Even more importantly, props make the postures much more enjoyable to comfortably sustain. The right props empower you to completely surrender and relax into the shapes.
In this restorative sequence, use the strap to find the most comfortable and relaxing expressions of each posture, and notice how you’re able to soften muscular control and surrender to the magic of the relaxation response.
See also 4 Must-Try Restorative Poses—& How to Get the Most Support from Your Props
Need Some Self-Care? Try This 75-Minute One-Strap Restorative Yoga Sequence
For this sequence, make sure you’re using a strap that’s 8- to 10-feet long. Other than your strap, you will need your yoga mat and a calm, quiet, relaxing environment.
1. Strap Backpack Meditation
Begin seated in any comfortable position. You can sit in a chair, on a cushion, or on the floor. Wherever you choose to be, elevate your seat slightly higher than your knees so that your hips can relax completely.
Elongate your spine by reaching your sit bones toward the floor and stretching the crown of your head toward the sky. Take your strap and loop it behind your back to touch the bottom tip of your shoulder blades. Hold on to each end of the strap with the corresponding hand and equalize the excess slack of the strap on both sides.
From here, sling the strap ends over your shoulders so that they fall back behind you. Pull down on both ends of the strap to gently tighten its grip over your shoulders. Then, cross the strap ends into an “X” shape behind your back. Keep the strap pulled taut and take hold of either end of the strap in each respective hand in front of you. Loop the strap into the buckle and tighten it. Soften your shoulders and relax your arms into any place of comfort.
Now that you’ve strapped yourself into a position of good posture, close your eyes and draw your awareness inside. Mentally scan your body to find any hidden pockets of tension, and if any arise, consciously give yourself permission to release them. Turn your attention to your breath and elongate each inhale and each exhale. Soften your mind and surrender into the present moment; become enthralled by the beauty of this very moment.
Stay here for about 5 minutes, becoming completely present.
See also 10 Creative Ways to Use Props in Your Practice
About the Author
Leah is a Yoga Alliance-certified teacher with over 1,500 hours of teaching experience. Learn more at leahsugerman.com.