Resistance bands are popular in the fitness world, especially for strength training. They work by creating tension and resistance, requiring extra effort from your muscles. But can they be incorporated into yoga?
Resistance bands can help you achieve proper alignment. If you are holding your body in a position incorrectly, you will be able to tell through the band. Practicing poses while using a band can help you train your muscles to come into proper alignment naturally. They can also be great for people who need easier variations or cannot come fully into a pose due to injury.
Always make sure you are using a resistance band that is neither too light nor too strong. Find a tension that you can handle right away but will also continue to provide benefits as you grow stronger. Move slowly and don’t try to pull the band too tight; only create enough resistance to engage your muscles without straining them.
The next time you roll out your mat, try these familiar poses – with a twist:
- Warrior II
Step from Downward Dog into a lunge with your back foot at a 45-degree angle. Turn your hips out and face your pelvis towards one side of your mat. Hold a resistance band in your hands and raise your arms to shoulder height, stretching the band out across the span of your arms and torso. Gaze softly over whichever hand is facing forward (same side as the leg that is bent).
- Warrior III
Step your feet 4-5 feet apart; front foot pointed towards the front of the mat and back foot at a 45-degree angle. Face your hips to the front of the mat. Place one end of a resistance band under your front foot and hold the other end with both hands. Press into your front foot, lift your back leg, and lower your torso until it is parallel with the floor. Reach forward with both hands, stretching the band in front of your body at an angle. Make sure to keep your left foot engaged by flexing it.
- Wide Leg Forward Fold
Hold a band in both hands behind your back with your fists facing out to the sides. Step your feet 4-5 feet apart and bend at the hip like in regular forward fold. Bring your head down as close to the ground as possible without rounding your spine. Slowly bring your arms up so that they are perpendicular to the floor, then stretch the band by pulling your hands away from each other.
- Tree Pose
Start in Mountain pose and firmly ground your feet into the floor. Place one end of a band under the foot that will remain in the ground. Begin to shift your weight to one foot, engaging your core and keeping your foot as stable as possible. Bring the foot forward, your weight is not on to your calf, then slowly higher if possible. The optimum placement for your foot is against the inner thigh close to the pelvis. Do not rest your foot on the side of your knee, only above or below it. Bring your hands in front of your chest, stretching the band up along the length of your body and focus on an unmoving spot in front of you.
- Dancer Pose
Stand in Mountain pose and shift your weight to your right leg, making sure you are firmly rooted. Bend your left knee and wrap a band around the top of your left foot. Hold the other end of the band behind your back with your left hand. Lift your left leg behind you, keeping a slight bend in the right leg to avoid hyperextension. Stretch your left leg up and back while leaning your torso forward, pressing the left foot back slightly to engage the band. Reach your right arm out in front of you and try to lift your torso rather than letting it fall forward. Try to hold this pose for 20-30 seconds.
- Half Moon
Go into triangle – feet shoulder width apart, right foot pointed forward, bent at the hip and arms perpendicular to the floor. Place a band under your right foot and grip the end with your left hand. Bend your right knee slightly and lift your left leg parallel to the floor, keeping your toes pointed out to one side of your mat. As you straighten your right leg, lift your left arm back up towards the ceiling, stretching the band across your chest.