Side bends and spi­rals

Use these ex­er­cises to ex­pe­ri­ence a dif­fer­ent kind of strength and ease in your body.

Yoga Journal - - ANATOMY -


Start in a 90/90 kneel­ing po­si­tion( each knee) forms a 90-de­gree an­gle). Step your right foot for­ward so it’s be­low your right knee; rest your left knee on the mat be­low your left hip. Re­lax your left shin and the top of your left foot on the mat. Reach your arms out from your sides to just-be­low-shoul­der level. Elon­gate your spine and lift up from you bone. On an in­hala­tion, ini­ti­ate a side bend to your right side. Reach your left arm over­head and lift from your left ear. You are ac­tively length­en­ing and strength­en­ing the mus­cles on your left side that hold you in lat­eral flex­ion, in­clud­ing your obliques and quadra­tus lum­bo­rum. Across your left hip, you ac­tively lengthen your hip flex­ors. On your in­hala­tion, breathe deeply into the left side of your rib cage; sense the ex­pan­sion. On your ex­ha­la­tion, en­gage your pelvic floor and lower ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles, in­creas­ing the lift in your pelvis to lengthen your lower back and in­ten­sify the hip-flexor stretch. Main­tain the po­si­tion for 4-10 slow, full breaths. Then lower your left arm and cen­ter your up­per body.


In the kneel­ing po­si­tion, take both arms over­head. On an in­hala­tion, press your right foot lightly for­ward; let your knee ex­tend and your pelvis shift back. Keep your spine cen­tered and long as you fold your up­per body for­ward, and lower your arms to shoul­der level. By let­ting your hip flex, you al­low the fas­cia in front of your hip joint to soften. When you ex­hale, raise your arms over­head and lift into an up­right po­si­tion. Re­peat the move­ment slowly 4–8 times.

On an ex­ha­la­tion, reach your right arm down to­ward the floor. Sense a domino-like mo­tion in which the reach­ing of your arm fa­cil­i­tates the slight glid­ing of your shoul­der blade along your ribs, en­abling the back of your left rib cage to spi­ral open and your spine to fol­low along. While your ster­num re­volves to­ward the floor, you can ro­tate your pelvis up to­ward the ceil­ing to in­ten­sify the open­ing in your lower back.


To tran­si­tion into a 90/90 side stretch, place your left hand on the floor (or a block) in line with your left knee. Once your hand is firmly grounded, shift your pelvis di­rectly over your left knee and reach your right arm over your head. Your spine is long in lat­eral flex­ion. Keep your head in line with your length­ened neck.

Press your left hand against the floor and firmly sta­bi­lize your shoul­der by spi­ral­ing the head of your humerus out and down. Imag­ine that your arm is a strong pil­lar over which you can drape your up­per body. Reach far­ther out with your right arm to in­crease the stretch in your latis­simus dorsi, pec­toralis ma­jor, in­ter­costals (mus­cles be­tween your ribs), spine ex­ten­sors, and ab­dom­i­nals. On your left side, the mus­cles and fas­cia in your rib cage and waist­line soften. On an in­hala­tion, raise your right arm over­head. Ro­tate your spine and rib cage to­ward the ceil­ing along with your arm. Let the front of your rib cage open. Con­tinue to reach out with your right hand and turn your palm up to­ward the ceil­ing to in­ten­sify the chest open­ing and up­per-body stretch. Re­peat the spi­ral­ing mo­tion 1–3 more times slowly.

Move into Adho Mukha Svanasana (Down­ward-Fac­ing Dog Pose) for a few breaths. Switch legs, and re­peat the se­quence on the other side.

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