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Day 20: Beginner

Sidebends with Jason Crandell

Daily life rarely calls for lateral flexion, otherwise known as sidebending. Which is too bad. Sidebends can do wonders for your body. Among other things, they stretch the muscles of the spine, rib cage, shoulders, and pelvis. They also stimulate the kidneys, intestines, and other organs of the torso. It's no wonder they're a staple of a well-rounded asana practice.

Today's sequence is packed with sidebends, from a simple seated stretch to the challenging Vasisthasana (Side Plank Pose). Have a block on hand. As always, attention to the breath maximizes the effects of the postures. Be particularly mindful of your inhalations throughout the 30-minute practice. "Let the inhalation feel like it has a broad, horizontal quality to it, like it expands the sides of the ribs," Jason Crandell says. "Usually, when we make the breath bigger, we make it longer. But as you make the breath bigger in today's sequence, feel like the breath gets wider."

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Challenge Tip

When stretching one side of your torso in Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) or Utthita Parsvakonasana (Extended Side Angle Pose), there's a tendency to scrunch the other side. To avoid compressing the intervertebral discs, make your spine as long as possible, pulling the chest away from the belly. And don't hesitate to place a block beneath your bottom hand. Reaching for the floor before your body is ready is a recipe for misalignment.

Today's Recipe: Garlicky Oven Fries

Presoaking potato slices in hot water helps remove excess starch so they brown and crisp like oil-cooked fries.

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