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Day 5: Intermediate



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: Butternut Stew
with Tofu, Corn, and Pine Nuts


Enjoy this vegan dish alone or with black beans and rice. Spice it up with green chilies or hot sauce!

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