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Pilates Mat Exercises with a Yoga Belt

at home mat props Jun 03, 2020

As much as we love Pilates mat work on its own, adding props can be a very beneficial way to add some variety. Depending on how you use them, they can make an exercise more challenging or they can assist you through challenging movements. 

The yoga belt can increase your abdominal activation and is a great feedback tool for student and teacher.

Benefits of Using a Yoga Belt In Your Classes

  • It can serve as a feedback tool. Focus on the body part that the belt is touching (i.e. Breathing), or let it be your guide for where to pivot(i.e. seated back bend), or where to engage (Swimming).
  • Use it as assistance, i.e. in One Leg Circles or Knee Stirs.
  • Use it as an accountability tool by placing it under your waist in supine, prone, or side-lying. Check that you are able to move the belt in side-lying and prone, and make sure that you're not able to move it in supine.
  • Use it to activate your anterior abdominal wall (Dead Bugs) or your outer shoulder stabilizers (Arm Arcs). When holding the belt in your hands, always pull apart. Never let the belt go limp.

Try out the exercises below and let me know in the comments which ones are your favorites!

Inside the Pilates Encyclopedia membership, we have a video demonstrating each of these exercises. Learn more about the membership!


  • Hold belt in your hands:
    • Arm Arcs 
    • Dead Bugs 
    • Single Leg Stretch 
    • Bridging 
    • Hundred w/ strap behind thighs 
  • Place the belt under your mid-back (imprint on the strap don’t lose strap as the instructor tries to pull it out)
    • Stomach Series with Chest Lifted 
    • Toe Taps
    • Single Leg Stretch
    • The Hundred, etc.
  • 3 Way Stretch:
    • Hamstring stretch 
    • IT Band/Twist 
    • Adductor 
  • One leg circles 
  • Knee Circles 

Seated + Rolling

  • Wrap belt around your rib cage:
    • Breathing 
    • Twist 
  • Stretch strap across your upper back, pull strap taut
    • Spine Twist 
    • backbend over the strap 
  • Hold strap in your hands 
    • overhead:
      • Spine Twist 
      • Side Bend 
    • in front of you: 
      • Spine Stretch Forward 
      • The Roll Up 
  • Strap around your feet, keep strap taut the whole time
    • The Roll Up 
    • Climb a Tree (strap around one foot) 


  • Hold belt behind your back
    • Dart + Shoulder Extension: lift and lower your arms (palms facing up or down) 
    • Prone Extension: lift your chest, moving from the thoracic spine 
    • Double Leg Kicks 
  • Place belt under your lower abdominal wall
    • Swimming (try to keep belly away from strap, so the instructor can pull it out) 


  • Place belt under your waist 
    • Side Balance/Side Kicks  (keep air under the waist, so your teacher can pull the strap easily) 

Quadruped + Kneeling

  • Push-Ups (tie strap around upper arms to keep them next to chest - hammock feeling) 
  • The Z (hold strap taut between hands) 


  • Balance on one leg with the belt between your hands 
    • behind back or 
    • in front or 
    • overhead
  • Pectoral stretch 
  • Arm Raises: strap between hands, pull apart; teach closing of ribs as arms lift (like Arm Arcs, but Standing)
  • Side bend: arms overhead with strap (like the seated version  
  • Shoulder Extension 

Purchase Your Yoga Belt

This post contains affiliate links, which allows me to continue offering tons of excellent free content on this site. I only recommend stuff I love.


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