When most of us stretch before or after a workout, we usually do a series of poses that involve leaning forward or pulling parts of the body towards us. Very rarely does the side of the body get any love. Because we also tend to not move our side body in our daily lives, it’s even more important to give it some attention to help with spine mobility and comfort. Plus, it also helps you take deeper breaths.
These side body stretches do more than lengthen your spine. Depending on the pose, they can stretch your abductors, back muscles, and obliques while opening other parts of your body like the chest and shoulders. Give these 4 stretches a try, and you’ll find yourself adding them to your routine.
Gate Pose: Begin this pose on your knees. Extend your right leg all the way out to the side. Make sure your knee and ankle stay in line with the hip. Raise your left arm up. As you exhale, lean your torso to the right and stretch your left arm over your head (also to the right). You can rest your right arm on your right leg. Remember to breathe. Bring your torso and arms back upright.
Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose: Start by sitting upright with your legs wide. Bend your left leg, so your heel is against the inner thigh. Extend your right leg to the side. As you exhale, lean to the right and bring your right shoulder to the inside of your right knee. Reach your left arm overhead to hold your right foot. If you want to take it further, you can twist your torso towards the sky. When coming out of this pose, be sure to untwist and lean midway between the legs first.
Extended Side Angle Pose: Begin in mountain pose. Step your feet out farther than hip-width apart. Turn your right foot, so it is facing the top of your mat and bend your right knee. Your left leg will be straight. With your torso facing the left, reach your arm overhead and tilt over your right leg. Keep your back straight. You can rest your right arm on your right thigh. For more of a stretch, you can reach your right hand to the floor.
Reverse Warrior Pose: Standing with your legs wider than hip-width apart. Point your right toes to the front of the mat and bend your right knee. Keep your other leg straight out. Extend your arms, so they are shoulder height. Tilt your torso towards your straight leg facing your bent knee. Reach your right arm up and slightly overhead, adding to that stretch. Your left arm can help you keep balance by holding onto your left side.