9/100 ~ Side stretch – Today’s pose is a simple shape you can take from any seated posture – whether on the floor or in a chair.

Benefits: This stretch releases tension in the shoulders and creates flexibility in the spine. One side of the body is stretched, while the other side is compressed in this pose. Taking this shape stretches the muscles that hold our ribcage together, creating more space in the torso to be able to receive a deeper inhale. The other side of the body is being compressed, creating a massage and detox effect on the organs on that side. Lifting the arm and opening into the side-body helps to balance the lung meridian where grief and sadness is held; therefore inviting in joy and contentment.

How to: Sit on the floor in easy pose (day 5) or in a firm chair. Press equally into both sit bones and lift through the crown of the head to sit tall. Reach your left arm up and inhale as you stretch through the fingertips and root down into the left sit bone. Feel the opening in the left side body already. Then, as you exhale, lean to the right and reach the fingertips overhead and right. You can steady yourself with the right hand, and then breathe deeply into the left rib cage. Notice the extra stretch created as your lungs expand – stretching yourself from the inside out. Take a few deep breaths here, continuing to even out the pressure in your sit bones. Release the pose on an inhale, then rest for a few breaths before stretching on the other side.

Your turn: The natural reaction in a side bend like this is to hold our breath. I find that I need to consciously remind myself to breathe deeply when a side bend is offered. Try this pose and tell me how it felt for you. Could you feel the extra stretch in your ribs on your inhale?

Mantra: “I am kind and gentle with myself when I practice new yoga poses.”