On Your Side: A Sequence for the Side Body

A sidebending practice can open areas you don't often stretch and leave you feeling more balanced all over.
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A sidebending practice can open areas you don't often stretch and leave you feeling more balanced all over.
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"The craziness of modern life often means we take on an aggressive, plow-through-it-all mentality—a linear model of pushing through and getting it done. This mentality can take over our practice too," says Janet Stone, a vinyasa flow teacher in San Francisco. How often do we push ourselves to attain a deeper backbend or forward bend? "In learning to open and move our side body, we can change that habit a little. Instead of moving straight on, we breathe into our sides to create space for subtle yet powerful transformation."

To help you explore a new angle, Stone created the sequence on the following pages; it includes strengthening, hip opening, and lots of sidebending. And sidebends stretch out muscles, like the quadratus lumborum, that don't get as much attention or release in forward bends and backbends. Stone recommends that as you lean into poses, you send breath through the ribs, lower back, hips, neck, and the entire side portion of the spine. Keep your chest open and enjoy a new, more spacious perspective.

To Begin

Take a seat. Sit in Sukhasana (Easy Pose). Walk your hands in front of you. Take a moment to set the intention to flow into a new perspective. Now walk your hands to the right and pause; walk hands to the left and pause; move back to center.

Home Practice with Janet Stone

To Finish

Kick back. Take Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose). Place both hands on your belly, one hand on top of the other, and send breath there to free up your creative life force. Now move your hands to your heart and take a deep breath into your heart space. Release your hands out to the side, palms up. Rest here for 10 minutes.