Yoga props are a great way to create a steady foundation for your practice and prevent injury. One such tool I keep on hand are my Victorem resistance bands. Yes, you can use resistance bands in yoga to build more strength on the mat. Plus they can be used to establish balance around the shoulder girdle and prepare you for inversions. This post shows you how.
Now I was a personal trainer long before I became a yoga instructor.
This occurred because I was inspired by those who helped me as a young athlete. I lifted weights with my mom’s friends long before I was of age to get a gym membership of my own. I also found that supplemental functional training indoors improved my skills on the soccer field.
However, it wasn’t until my college years that I began to really understand how stretching impacts performance. This naturally led to my discovery of yoga. After years of dedicated practice, my body became both lean and powerful.
Yes, many yoga poses require you to be both strong and flexible. And while resistance bands are often only seen as a tool to build strength, they can be done in a way that positively impacts your ability to move with control on the yoga mat too.
WHAT ARE RESISTANCE BANDS?
Resistance bands are essentially lightweight, elastic straps used to increase tension during a physical activity. The best part is that they come in a variety of lengths and degrees of tension. This means you can adjust the difficulty of any particular activity to meet your needs.
For example, a lightweight use of resistance bands are often used in physical therapy. This allows individuals to retrain injured areas of the body and return back to their normal state of health (and hopefully an even better one). They are also great for older populations who might be doing simple movements in chair yoga. Plus, active individuals seeking to gain even more strength can up the challenge to meet their own goals as well.
Keep in mind that these resistance bands can come in open- and closed-loop designs.
BENEFITS OF RESISTANCE BANDS
Just like a block or blanket is used for greater support on the mat, you can also use resistance bands in yoga to enhance your practice. In fact, resistance bands:
- add external force to an activity (more than just your body weight fighting gravity)
- customize a yoga (or fitness) routine to your needed degree of difficulty, since you control the tension and length of the band
- build more strength
- increase body awareness
- establish muscle memory and greater balance within muscle groups
- target smaller muscles of the body that get overlooked in other workouts
WHY I CHOOSE VICTOREM RESISTANCE BANDS
My husband sometimes calls me high maintenance because I am very selective about what I eat, where I go, and what I choose to buy. After reading the book Know Yourself, Know your Money by Rachel Cruze, I understand why. I have a tendency to spend my money on high quality items.
This explains why I love the Victorem resistance bands so much. Here are just a few more reasons why:
- The bands are made from a very soft material. This makes it enjoyable to have right on the skin as you move.
- They are thick. This adds more surface area than a regular yoga strap when you want to build shoulder stability (like in the poses below).
- Victorem bands are colorful! Who doesn’t appreciate when beauty and functionality pair to create a beautiful product? Victorem blends style and utility into the perfect resistance band … one that will be a great addition to the yoga props you use on a regular basis!
- They’re easy to store. When you get the hip band set by Victorem, a small pouch is included. This makes it easy to keep your yoga room neat and tidy, and the bands easy to find. Or, if you’re like me and you travel frequently, they’re easy to pack in your travel bag and stay fit on the road.
- Victorem offers variety. I’ve got the hip band set as part of my yoga tool bag, but you might want to also add their pull up assist long bands for other activities.
When you order your bands, you’ll also get a welcome card that contains a custom QR code. When scanned, you can connect with Victorem’s chat box in Facebook and get access to simple video ideas for all parts of the body.
USE RESISTANCE BANDS FOR SHOULDER STABILITY
One additional benefit of using resistance bands in yoga is that they’re an easy tool to integrate into your regular practice. Take a look at the poses below. I show you exactly how to utilize a resistance band to create shoulder stability. This strength can then help you move into more challenging poses and inversions with greater ease.
(1) Child’s Pose
Place the strap around the upper arm bones, just above the elbow. This establishes a baseline for what it’s like to have the arms shoulder-distance apart. Plus the strap becomes a pillow for the head.
To add strength: Come on to your fingertips and drop the shoulder blades down the back. Then, as you exhale, take your right arm out to the side until you meet a tolerable degree of resistance. Notice the lats, traps, and rhomboids engage to make this possible. Inhale back to center. Repeat 5 times on both sides.
(2) Tabletop with Hip Circles
Now that your arms are weight bearing, more strain is placed on the shoulders. Slightly resisting the strap reminds you to keep the collar bones broad as you press the floor away. Plus the core is engaged to keep the spine neutral while you take conscious movements of the hip joint.
You can also come on to your right fingertips and take your right arm out to the side (just as you did in child’s pose). This awakens the rear deltoids, traps and lats as well. Move 5-10 times on this side before repeating on the left side.
(3) Downward Facing Dog
Build even more stability in the shoulder girdle as you press the floor away and keep the chest open in Down Dog (keeping the strap in place). After holding the pose for 5-10 cycles of breath, walk the feet in and shorten your stance. Then, repeat the same activity of taking one hand out to the side of your mat at a time. This simply increases the intensity of those same muscle groups in motion. Make it easier by dropping the knees again.
(4) Forearm Plank
Use a resistance band in yoga while in the forearm plank as well. The same balance in the shoulder girdle is created because you’re simultaneously pressing into the floor (activating serratus anterior) and broadening the collarbone (keeping the shoulder blades in place with active rhomboids and traps). Stay put here and notice how the resistance band used here increases your awareness of this muscular activation.
Keep this muscular awareness as you resist the strap on the upper arm bones as the shoulders extend and the hips lift in dolphin pose. The strength you’re building here is needed for any of the forearm balance yoga postures.
(6) Spinal Work in Headstand prep
In yoga poses, some parts of the body create stability so that freedom can occur elsewhere. Simply amplify the base of support with the shoulders here as you move the lower spinal region. The resistance band still above the elbows reminds you to stay strong in the upper body the entire time in this pose.
(7) Backbend with a Lat Release
In addition to creating strength, resistance bands in yoga can be used to facilitate greater release. In the case of this backbend, the resistance band prevents the arms from moving out to the side (thus allowing a deeper stretch of the lats without fear of injury).
Take a few moments to absorb the changes from your practice. Since the Victorem resistance bands are wide and soft, they make a perfect eye pillow as you rest in savasana after this sequence.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
While resistance bands are often seen only as a tool to build strength, they’re a great way to boost awareness and establish greater balance in the body as well. Said another way, you can incorporate resistance bands in yoga to support your practice. And they can do so to create shoulder stability, increase hip abduction, and core functionality.
Take Action Now:
- Get your own set of Victorem resistance bands and start using them on your yoga mat today.
- Join me in a special yoga class that uses resistance bands to build shoulder stability today.
- Email me your questions and thoughts about resistance bands in yoga. I’d love to hear how you use props in creative ways to boost your health (and the health of your clients).