I see you yogis, working on strengthening your obliques and IT bands! You’re looking fit, but are you feeling stiff? We often forget that it is equally as important to stretch as it is to strengthen.
These 6 poses will help you target these specific areas, as well as your neck. Many of these are classic yoga poses, adapted to give your full side body some attention.
Not only will these asanas help you to stretch your side, but you should see a boost of energy and improved posture with regular practice.
If you are looking for a guided flow, incorporating these poses and many others, follow along with this week’s video Yoga Side Body Stretch – Obliques, IT band and Neck Release.
You will want to have one block handy, as we practice a number of balancing poses in this intermediate practice.
1. Seated bind
In a comfortable cross legged pose, lift up through the chest, pressing the shoulders down. Clasp your fingers behind your back. Reach the knuckles and palms around the left waist until you feel a nice stretch. Take a moment to press the shoulders down again, as you turn a neutral chin towards the left shoulder. Return to neutral and switch to the right side.
2. Wide legged side bend
From a seated position, extend the right leg and open it out to the side, keeping the left leg bent and foot resting close to the inner thigh of the extended leg. Ground your sit bones as you slide the right arm down your outstretched leg. Inhale the left arm overhead, and with your exhale find a side bend. Keep drawing your left shoulder back to open to the side rather than folding over the leg.
3. Wild thing variation
From your wide legged side bend, plant the left hand on the ground a little ways from your left hip. Raise your hips up to the sky, as you come on to the sole of your extended foot, leaving the left leg bent and shin on the mat. Reach your right arm skyward and then over, coming into one long stretch from the tips of your toes up through your fingers. Repeat 2 and 3 on the other side.
4. Cat/Cow side body stretch
Coming into tabletop, keep your chest and core neutral. Look over the right shoulder, as you work it towards the right hip. Then switch to the left side. Repeat this a few times on both sides. To take the stretch deeper, extend the left leg and cross over the bent right leg as you look to the right, and continue to work the shoulder and hip towards one another. Repeat on the opposite side.
5. Three-legged dog, side body opener
Come first into a standard downward dog. Kick the right leg up behind you, opening the hip to the side and bend your knee, kicking the foot towards your bottom. In the standard pose we try to keep the shoulders squared to the ground, but since we are stretching the side body come up on to the right fingertips. Then open the shoulder on the same side as you look under. Make sure to take this stretch on both sides.
6. Sugar Cane
Step left leg back, bringing right hand to floor in front of right foot or on the block. Placing your left hand on your hip, kick your left leg up and back. Roll the left hip and arm back coming into half moon. You can stay here, but to get a nice side body stretch, bend your left knee until you can catch hold with your left hand. Kick the foot into your palm as you lean the head back. Shake it out and switch sides.
Watch and complete the full 45 minute class below.
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