During one of my first few yoga teacher training weekends, we discussed variations of the supine stretch (Supta Padangusthasana I), for the beginner student. One of those used a yoga strap over the foot if the student isn't flexible enough to reach the big toe. However, the ordinary strap had one issue, in that it could tend to flex the metatarsal arch in the opposite direction. This project outlines a simple modification for a yoga strap (adding a tennis ball) which prevents the arch from being flexed in the wrong direction.
Step 1: Parts and Tools
For this project you'll need the following items and tools:
1) a lighter weight 6' yoga strap - if the strap is to heavy (thick) it may not pass through the holes in the tennis ball
2) a tennis ball
3) X-acto knife with #11 blade
4) fine tip / felt tip marker
5) one thin dime
6) needle nose pliers
Step 2: Marking and Cutting the Holes
Use the dime as a template for the holes in the tennis ball, tracing the outside diameter of the dime with the marker and placing the two holes on opposite sides of the tennis ball.
Once the holes are marked, carefully cut out the holes with the X-acto knife.
NOTE: the holes should not be much bigger than a dime in size, otherwise the tennis ball could lose its integrity, during the intended use
Step 3: Threading the Strap
To thread the strap through the holes I rolled the end of the strap and fed it through the first hole. If the rolled strap holds through the first hole, you may be able to feed it on through to the second hole. If not, take the needle nose pliers and grab the end of the strap and pull it through the second hole. The resulting modified yoga strap with tennis ball is shown below.
Step 4: Supine Stretch (Supta Padangusthasana I)
Notice that the ball pressing into the metatarsal arch, allows that arch to maintain its natural shape, while performing this pose/stretch.
- For this pose the left leg is on the floor extended and strong.
- The right leg is up and as straight as possible with the tennis ball, on the strap, placed at the metatarsal arch.
- The shoulders are relaxed into there sockets and slightly pressed into the floor, so that the arms are applying a firm tension against the strap, pulling not just downward, but also slightly forward (direction the toes are pointed).
- Remember to breath, being aware of your breath and the movement of the diaphragm, while holding the pose.
For some info on other variations on this stretch, see my blog "The Yoga Ride".