or neat-o ways to open the side body

Ola dear blogosphere. As promised a small snippet of reflection on Tuesday’s class. Do you feel tight and scrunched even with regular yoga practice, or more likely without? Our bodies are naturally orientated forward and backwards; we can alleviate a lot of this tension by opening into the often neglected side body and peripheral zones.

Our turd bird can count to five all by herself! In honour of this amazing milestone that has me convinced she’s future mensa material, my humble five suggestions for you to consider incorporating into your practice*:

  1. Banana-fy your asana – if your spine’s orientation is vertical consider putting a gentle lateral curve into it. You can start with something simple like a comfortable cross-legged or child’s pose(arms extended overhead) and work up to high and low lunges as well as warrior 1s, 2s, side angle, triangle and balancing half moon. Not only does this help release or serratus anterior from its’ usual position (these are the muscles that run along the side of our ribcage) it gives extra room for the breath. Take it a bit further and extend and exaggerate the curve in arm(s) that powerfully extend alongside your ear(s).
  2. Flow – Marry your breath to your new shape – inhale back to the straight spine, exhale with the curved one, start gentle and with time and comfort expand the range and feel the breath, body, ribcage and hips gently open with the flow. Transitioning from warrior 2 to reverse warrior is a fun flow.
  3. Play – Do you feel like naturally opening a bit further, perhaps twisting or back-bending? If it feels good, go for it. I’ve had plenty a well meaning yoga teacher re-position my arms in triangle back into the in between two-panes-of-glass scenario, which at times feels constricted, especially after lugging her highness around all day. If it feels good to open a bit more there’s no harm if body and spirit are happy and strong.  We spend enough of our day playing it straight so don’t be afraid to get curly.

    Extending the side body through reverse warrior.

    Extending the side body through reverse warrior.

  4. Give your shoulders some lovin’ – specifically the tension collectors that reside along top of our shoulders and into our neck, the levator scapulae and trapezius. I’ll go into more detail in next week’s class where we explore hip and shoulder opening.
  5. Don’t forget the sides of your pegs – Release low back, knee and ankle tension pain with two simple postures. Cross one foot behind the other before playing with a flowing forward fold to half forward fold, linking the breath. This releases your IT bands, a radical connective tissue that runs from your knee up to the outside of your hip. Runners will be familiar with the ITB. Bring the sides of your calves and ankles to life with a wide-legged forward fold, holding for a few long breaths to lengthen your lower gams.

Want to go further? Check out these awesome online classes:

  • An accessible hatha class with Rod Stryker on yogaglo(I really love Rod’s voice….not like that’s the ultimate criteria or anything but…)
  • A sweet Yin practice with Tiffany Cruikshank on yogaglo (Tiffany’s classes are great for you athletic types. I love her accessible and informed approach)

*ok so even though it goes without saying, use your common sense here lovelies. Don’t get overzealous with the experimentation if you’re new to yoga, work with where you’re at, and stay safe! If you have never done yoga before, talk to your doctor to get the all clear before heading off to a local studio where you can get some hands-on guidance from an accredited yoga teacher.

Yoga on, and please share if this post was helpful for your home practice!