Bend It Like Bex Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 8

Side Body Flow

50 min - Practice


Bex guides us in a dynamic sequence to build strength and create length in the side body. We move steadily through a series of low lunges and deep side body stretching, and finish with unique side wraps and balancing core work. You will feel strong and expansive.
What You'll Need: Mat

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(ocean waves) Welcome, I'm Bex, and this sequence is all about the side body. Subtle, and yet, we'll get into those pillars. So find a comfortable seat, you know you can recline, you just find that space, and you close your eyes. And I find when eyelids seal, it's a real opportunity to kind of center yourself and take in your inner landscape. So as the breath begins to flow, you almost imagine that the breath is a fountain.

Right, up and through you. And so within that space of feeling elevated, you lute yourself. And if it feels right for you when you're inhaling, notice where the breath changes the pressure in the body, alright, if it's the belly rising and falling, or if it's the capacity of the ribs to widen and soften, and consider what the length could be like for you, where there's buoyancy possible. So if you notice that your body is tilting forward or back, see if you can find that natural curves in the spine to get you more upright, and in that space you can really hone in on your own frequency. So the static of other or what else needs to be calling your attention, it dissolves for now, and you begin to telescope the energy in to the mid-line as well as the side body.

So it is a brief set, and my hope is that if you want a longer one, you can just pause right now and stay with it. Everyone else bring your hands to your heart center in prayer. Pick that intention, that mantra, or your motivation, or the sweetness from your dedication. And then draw the chin to the chest sealing that in. And go ahead and open your eyes.

So, come into Child's Pose, feet together, knees wide. Do what's best for your body if you're not feeling like Child's Pose is resonating for your hips today. You can lie on your back. Otherwise, extend the arms forward and let the forehead meet the mat, if it needs more support, a blanket or a block. And slowly begin to wriggle the body.

So, it's real subtle, and the breath kind of feels like it's sloshing the water in the body side to side. And in that consideration, you allow for gentle movements. Take the left hand, you might wanna look at it, take the left hand just outside the left side of the mat, and then stack the right palm on top. If that feels like more side bending than your body's ready for, you can bend the elbow and just lower the left elbow. If not, you go to that place, where it's the beginning and you're nourishing yourself with your breath, the lips are closed.

And I like to lower the right side body and lift the left one and feel that oscillation. So that I can tune in to what's happening in the side body. And then come through center. And this time, when you come through center, bend your elbows so that you stack your forearms, so that when your head lands, you can sense what's shifting on the left side of the body. And even on the right side of the body, it's subtle, and yet if you just take a couple moments, you can feel the ease in your effort.

So you inhale come up, when the right reaches just outside the right side of the mat, you can place the left hand on top. And remember, two sides often feel different, so be clear that where ever your hand lands and your head lands that's okay for you. And if it feels like you're overdoing it, you back off. 'Cause the potency comes from meeting yourself where you are, and then breathing deeply into that space that brightens you. And in that space is the ability to grow, to shift, and to release, and the releasing only happens if you're really ready to unpack.

So you might wanna, if you haven't already begun that lowering of the right and lifting of the left, if you don't find that intriguing, and you'd rather just wait, you just wait, you breathe. So you explore the spaces with softness right now so nothing is too firm. And then when you come back to the center, and you bend the forearms, just see if you can put the other forearm on the bottom. It's the one that'll feel a little foreign to you. Couple rounds of breath here.

It's a slow opening and you're receiving it. So, you'll take a moment, we'll all transition to Tadasana. Now take your time and mindfully come to standing. So, hands come to heart center, you can shake out the legs a little, if the knees feel like anything was intense there. Great moment to re-infuse your intention.

So, you roll the mat out, you breathe, you're here and then sometimes you get lost, so reintegrate. Inhale, the arms over the head, there's that form grab again, and as they come back, you will just subtly pull the ears back, and the arms back, and the ribs will rinse downward and you will lean over to your right. So as you lean over to your right, feel the weight in the platform of your feet, as balanced as you can. And the right shoulder, and the opposite hip, which is the left one, will kind of navigate ever so subtly forward which will allow the left one to drift back. And then you inhale come up.

And firm legs now, and you lean over to the left. So, this is just like a moment where the arms find their way navigating back. Now it's the left shoulder and the right hip that slide forward. And the right shoulder disappears back a little bit, you breathe here. So it's that Ujjayi Pranayama, that victorious breath.

Loud enough to call attention to being a breathing being, and not in the story of the mind. And then inhale, come up. Just for fun, look up, switch whatever hand was grabbing the opposite elbow, bring the arms back once again. Feel the upper arm bones, which are actually the lower ones now, feel the humorous bones thread into the shoulder girdle. Arms back.

Activity in the toes, and then go back over to the right. Smoothing the breath out, and then finding the space where you are free to move, you can shimmy in any pose, so there not that rigid sense. (deep breathing) Then inhale, and come up. Arms back and go over to the left. So there's subtle nuances of gentle twist that bring you back in that space.

If you're leaning forward, find the mid-line, squeezing the inner thighs. Side bending doesn't always happen during the day, so it's great to investigate it in the practice. And then, inhale come up. Bring the hands to the heart center in prayer, and just feel. Variation of Surya Namaskara A.

Inhale, the arms up. Little bend in the knees, you can keep the palms together or take them wide if you prefer. Inhale, lift for Ardha Uttanasana. Exhale, the right leg back, knee down, top of the foot down, and then inhale. Let the arms hang now, and as the arms hang, pull the ears back and you could subtly feel there like a slurping of the thigh bones into the pelvis, and you just breathe.

A lot of energy in between the inner thighs, like they're magnetized towards each other. Hands come forward and down, the left leg will go back. You can inhale to the plank. You know Child's Pose, you can skip any Vinyasa. If not, exhaling Chaturanga, roll over the toes, inhale, lift for a low cobra or up dog.

The gaze can be forward or, if you want a deeper expression, up. And then, downward facing dog. First, down dog, a little bit of pedaling, you might feel a little daring today, so you bend the knees, you roll onto that outer blade on the left, and the inner blade on the right, and then you come up to the tip toes, and you do the other side. Why would you be doing this? Because guess what?

Your side body is part of this. So you're just shifting, shimmying side to side, if that pleases you. You come back into down dog, inhaling and exhaling. Step the right foot forward, and the left knee down, top of the foot down, and then this is that version where the arms just release, and the inner thighs light up. So, you find that space and then become the expression that feels authentic, just you being you, and then the hands come forward.

Left foot steps now to join the right. Hands on your shins, inhale length in, exhale fold. Arms can go wide or thread through heart center, inhale reaching the arms up, exhale hands to the heart center in prayer. And we begin again. Inhale arms come up, exhale, fold forward and down, little bend in the knees.

inhale lift the chest. This time, the left leg goes back, the knee drops down, the top of the foot drops down, hands go on the hips, and you will then reach the left arm up. As the left arm goes up, you can let the right arm weight down and take a gentle side bend. It takes a lot of recruitment in the legs, ears float back and you breathe here. Left arm down, both hands forward, you take the legs back here in the plank pose, you can skip the Vinyasa and go right into down dog, where you exhale Chaturanga, roll over the toes, inhale low cobra up, exhale downward facing dog.

Feel the heels the wading toward the mat, right and then the left, and the top of the front of the thighs, balanced action. A cohesive link in the body, step the left foot forward, lower the right shin bones down, top of the foot, arms by your side. I like to just gently squeeze in the outer rim of the pelvis. And rise the right arm as the left arm weights down. So here you'll notice that the head tends to peck forward, at least in my body.

So you kind of rise through the center of the chest, and feel the side bend. Breathing in, and breathing out. So you feel deeply whole in the side bend. Arms up, I mean the right arm goes up, and then it goes down. Back foot forward, hands on shins, inhale lift the chest.

Exhale fold. Inhale, come all the way up, reach up, and then center yourself, hands heart center in prayer. Final round of this variation, inhale the arms up, exhale fold forward and down. Inhale left, take the right leg back, land the shin bones atop of the foot, this time the left arm lifts up, and the right arm reaches back. And when the right arm reaches back, you look down here.

Subtle, gentle twist and side bend and you breathe. This happens to be one of my personal favorites. Then you swim the arms forward, plank pose, cycling through. Inhaling, exhaling. Inhaling, exhaling.

(deep breathing) Step the right foot forward, back knee down, top of the foot down. Feel anchored in your front foot and your back shin bones, and then reach the right arm up, and the left arm down. So you just breathe. So it's like waves of breath. Inhaling the arms up, forward, down, back foot forward, inhale lift the chest, exhale fold.

Inhale come all the way up, arms reach up. This time, continue the flow, exhale fold forward and down. Inhale lift the chest. You'll take the left leg back and the right leg back. Steady yourself in the plank.

You can move the right hand in the center of the mat. If you need support, the right knee will go down, if not, you'll press into the outer seam of the left leg, lift the left arm and wrap the right foot around, inhale reaching up. I think this would be a Ardha Gomukhasana Vasisthasana, half of everything. And then you hold there, 'cause you're whole. You put the left hand down, the right leg down inhale to the plank.

Energize yourself with a Vinyasa. Exhaling, and then inhaling. If you wanna take less, take less. It's a dynamic practice. And then slowly downward facing dog.

Come back into the plank. Very excited about this other side. You're on the left hand, the left form. You can use the left knee if you like, outer seam of the right foot down, and when the right arm reaches up, you can wrap, or you can just kind of halfway wrap, and reach up. So that top hip, which is the right one, navigated toward the right side of the mat, and lift, breathe.

My side body is now feeling awake. Right hand down, left foot down, inhale plank. And just use your legs here to charge, clear energize. And then if you want a Vinyasa, go ahead, be eager about it. If not, I'm gonna skip it.

I just did it in my mind and it was excellent. Downward facing dog. You'll lift your right leg and you will take the right leg to the left. And you can keep the left toes flexed, or if it excites you, you can point the left toes left, and then let yourself fall into the magic sweet spot. I could feel it, or I could feel it.

But I wanna be effort and effortlessness. Sthiram and sukham. My arms are working. So I gracefully exit, 'cause often we exit the pose, and we fumble. And you wanna know that the nervous system remembers how you exit the pose.

Downward facing dog. Just like when you leave the party, you wanna be just as graceful as when you arrived. Inhale to the plank, exhale Chaturanga, inhale low cobra up, and then exhale down. So you know what's coming, and you inhale to the plank, and you slide the left leg to the right. You might keep the right toes flexed and just wait, or you can roll and then slide it through.

And if it feels like a lot for you, it is a lot. Breathe. And then gently, mindfully, release. If you need a Child's Pose, feel free to take one. So there's a rinsing, there's a flashing that happens in the organs.

And now you will step the right foot forward, turn to the left heel in, and come into Virabhadrasana B. And you'll let yourself snuggle in through the pelvis, or hug it in, and find that right stance for you. Not too wide, not too shallow, that's the Goldilocks principle. Extend the arms, and gaze over the right shoulder. And so if your attention wanders, you sit deeper.

You sit deeper and you breathe. And both sides of the body are feeling like they have this equanimity, this balance, within them. And then from that place, maybe you sit a little deeper into the right thigh, and you reverse the Warrior. So gaze up, or the side, or down, emphasis on working the legs. And sometimes, I look down and I go, "Oh maybe if I turn that foot in, I can feel something." now you'll straighten the front leg, that's what I just did, and reverse your Trikonasana.

Fully employed, legs. You own your leg so you can stand in them. And then inhale come up, if you like to shorten the stance, do that, and slide into Triangle. So, how wide you take your Triangle, is precisely how spicy you like your food. You take it to the place where, you can delight in it, and yet you can feel some sense of it transforming within you.

(breathing deeply) Inhale come up through Warrior II, as you transition forearm to thigh, Utthita Parsvakonasana, the arm can come up, over, you could wrap it behind, remember that you're wanting as much space in the chest, like deep breathing, so even the lungs can feel like they're being served with your breath. So no point grabbing the thigh if you have to be really unattractive. I always consider, if my mat is my mirror, and my face or my body is doing something I wouldn't like to see, is it worth it. So just, maybe, make that inquiry. Breathe here.

And then place the left hand on the hip. If you're at home and you have a block, you can use it outside your right baby toe as you gracefully transition into Ardha Chandrasana, another one of my favorites. Reach the left arm up, flex the left foot. This is a pose that I feel like, always adds romance to my yoga. If I'm not excited about it, I'll just start my practice with Ardha Chandrasana.

We have a good relationship. And then slowly land the left leg gracefully. Left hand down, right leg back, down dog. You can peddle the feet out. If you need a Child's Pose, celebrate yourself in a Child's Pose.

If you think, "Oh, no way, I want more vigor," then go ahead, be a little crazy and take a Chaturanga. Low cobra up, downward facing dog. And when you think, "Oh, I forgot what's coming." I have great news, I haven't. Step the left foot forward, come into Virabhadrasana B on this side. And again, make your stance that happy stance.

Because that way you can stay a little longer. And as you reach through, as you pulse the breath through, reach the left arm forward and the right arm back and gaze. So the shoulders, they release, which means that the side body, it's doing the work. So let it do the work, and then emphasize in the areas that might space out. Breathing.

(breathing deep) The right arm reaches down, if you need to shorten your stance, do so. The left arm reaches up. And you take the gaze that allows you to strengthen your shape, and soften your mind. Straighten the front leg. So, here you are in that reverse Trikonasana, and you're patient with yourself.

You might be excited about the pose, but you still just be patient. Inhale, torso lifts, find your happy width, and then lengthen. So then you lengthen into the shape and in that space, you find the breath. (deep breathing) Use the exhalation to root the feet, inhale through Warrior II, left arm into thigh, right arm over. So the biceps right by the ear, the cheek, or right hand behind.

You just wanna make sure no unnecessary tension. Slide the right hand to the right hip, look just outside the left foot, and then lift. So there's a shifting point, and there's a lifting point. And if there's any kind of uncertainty, you can stay looking down. You can reach the right arm up and look to the side, or look straight up, and really ignite that light that's bright, that has five lines of energy, and you feel all of them, one not more dominant than the other.

And then slowly you land smooth. And when the right hand comes down, the left leg goes back. You can steady yourself in down dog, you can sparkle a little in plank, or really go for that shimmer and take Chaturanga. Inhale up, and then exhale back. You'll bend your knees, look to your hands, magically, feet with get there.

Inhale with the chest, exhale fold. Inhale come up slowly and just let it feel like the front body is enveloped in the back body, and you just kind of stack it and unspool, and then shrug and roll the shoulders, shrug and roll. And then let your arms rest down by your sides, and just breathe. Eyes can close as long as you feel. Still and clear.

So, slowly open your eyes, root down through your right hip, knee, and ankle. Assist yourself by grabbing hold of the left shin and putting the heel either inside the upper thigh on the right, or below the knee, and then hands come to the heart center. So, since the side body is the theme, I call this the mending tree. The right arm comes up, and you let yourself lean the left, like there's a strong breeze bending your tree, and it messes with your balance, and you have to have that sense of humor, the sense of humor that stability is an illusion. Everything is moving, everything is moving.

And that's where your compassion and your kindness gets birthed. You come up, bring your hands to the heart center, release, I like to shake it off in between. Just imagine that it never happened almost. And then, reground and feel the connection of the left hip, knee, and ankle. Bring that foot up.

So it could stay on the ankle or the inner calf, or you assist it, or you're helping yourself, and then hands come to prayer. There's also this great awareness that the left thigh presses into the foot, and then the left arm rises. Breathe, feel your breath. The gust is now coming from the right side of the body. It's tricky.

And then hands heart center. And then land, shake it out. And just to check in with what side bending feels like with one arm up and one arm down, you'll reach the right arm up, left palm into the left thigh. Now you have both your feet down, so balance won't be an issue. When you reach over to the left, you'll push the left thigh into the left hand, which will be a point of confusion.

The body will go, "Wait, I thought it was leaning right." Something amazing will start to awaken on the left side body. And if you feel nothing, that's okay. And if you feel something, that's okay. And obviously, if you feel everything, that's okay. And then, inhale come up.

Let the arm come down, feel. The contents on the left side of the body will feel something different from the right. One's not better or worse, they're just different. And then the left arm comes up, right arm goes down. Same kind of sense.

At first if feels like wait, my left hip is navigating away, and then I recruit from the right side. And it takes all of my effort and attention inward. Which is a beautiful thing. The practice is here so that you can be here in this moment, not avoid it, not run from it, just feel it, and your expression of it. And then inhale come up.

Hands to the heart center. And so now the palms press, you feel the union of the hands. Inhale the arms up, look to the thumbs. Fall forward and down, exhale. Inhale lift the chest.

Exhale the right leg back. The left leg back, and come onto your forearms. You might think, "Gosh, it's taking a long time to get to the floor today." it is, you're very observant. So you come on to your forearms, and then you'll turn your right hand like it was reaching for your left wrist, and you'll roll onto your right side. That left hand can remain on the hip, or you can reach it up.

You'll take that left arm through, if you want, and then up. So fun. Round and through, and then up. One more. Round and through, and then up.

And then slowly place the left forearm down, right forearm down, knees, thighs, pubic bone, naval, ribs. And you can just take a moment to go, "Thank you for receiving me floor." Maybe rock it out, and take the Sphinx. So, in the Sphinx, the elbows can stay grounded, or you can lift them. Remember you're going for a more uniform back bend, instead of hijacking the low back, which I'm really good at. You're wanting to find that space where it slides together.

And then slowly, you lower the elbows down, you put your hands down, you rest your forearms. Forehead is on the back of the palms, shake it out. Maybe you have a moment where you think, "Have I done the other side?" No, you haven't. So, you come back on your forearms, to get into it, you lift the ribs, the naval, the pubic bone, the thighs, flex the feet, and the knees rise. And now your left hand goes toward your right forearm, and you roll onto the outer blade of the left foot.

Hand can stay resting on hip, ears back, or you can reach it up and do three dives through and back. Through, and back. And last time, carving naval to the front of the spine, rounding up and then forearm down. You could belly flop, but knees, thighs, pubic bone, naval. That just sounds so good.

So slowly slither your chest forward, tether the naval in, and recline the shoulders, and then gently come forward and down. Rest your head on the other back of the palm. Shake it out. And now's when you think, "What could be next?" Well, here's where you're going. If you haven't been there in a long time, it's a place where you lie on your side and you rest your hand on your ear, or if you're feeling really brave, you use your hand in front of your ribs.

Now, you might just lift your legs. You just lift your legs, just feel that your legs are gonna lift. There you are, you're in touch with your inner mermaid, even if you know you didn't have one. And then you slowly lower it. Now, you'll bend that left knee.

And if that's a lot for you, you'll just stay right here. Anantasana, this is where the Buddha laid across the stream, and you want to make sure there's no spaces where that stream would get through. If not, here we go, remember balance. You'll lift that left leg and flex, flex, flex the right foot. And then you just breathe here.

And for a moment, you embody that grounded sense through the side body that stops the flow of the river. You're that powerful. So you have it, you own it. If you can't grab the foot, and you're holding the thigh, totally fine, not a big deal. Slowly lower the legs.

Roll onto your belly. Back onto the forehead onto the back of your hand, and then just shake it out. I think it's worth doing the other side. Go ahead and roll over, have that spark inside you, put that right hand in front. Again you can hold beyond the palm and the ear or you can just let the arm go down.

And lift the legs. I find that lifting the legs gives you the spirit and sense of rising. And then you lower. And you can bend the right knee and be happy right there. Or you can say, "Oh, can I grab any further?" And in that moment brave lift.

Oh, there might be some stream going underneath me. Lift, breathe, long lines of energy. This is where that Ardha Chandrasana comes in handy. And then fully release. Back onto your belly, forehead back of palm, breathe.

So, slowly lift your head and roll over onto your back, and we'll do a little bit of core balance. You will take your right leg over your left, wrap it, like the eagle, or you can just cross it half way. If you know you have sensitivity in the back of your neck, you'll hold your head. If you don't, you'll take eagle arms as well. So, that's totally up to you.

I'll do both variations. You will inhale to prepare, and then just exhale, rinse into yourself. Inhale come down. Exhale, curl. Inhale down.

Exhale curl, inhale down. And then exhale curl. Now very slowly you'll unwind the arms, and switch the legs. So, hands can go behind the head, or left elbow under the right. You inhale, nothing happens, when you exhale, you curl together.

Inhale come down. Exhale curl, inhale. Last two, exhale. If you really like these, you can do an extra set. And down.

And curl, and down. Slowly release the feet, release the hands down by your sides, and just for a moment, just feel that. That rinse and then that moment where you just let it go. So, now, take your fingertips, make sure they can graze the heels. And you'll do a breathing bridge.

You will simply just ripple, the pubic bone rise then the tailbone, and then the sacrum lumbar, and you'll inhale the arms up as that happens, over, and you'll exhale and you'll stay here. And light up the inner linings of the legs as if the block was there and then lift, a little bit more, lift. Lift, and then when you come down, it's on an exhalation, and then you feel like the lungs and the heart and that upper cavity of the chest comes down first, and then the arms. And that feels so wonderful. We'll do two more.

So, inhaling and see if you can feel the ripple. And as the arms come up, you can appreciate the left. Yes, you'll feel the back of the legs working for you. And then when your exhale comes when you're ready, you'll slowly undulate down from the top to the bottom. And then again.

Inhaling, lifting, lifting, lifting, all the way up. And slowly coming all the way down. Now, if there's a pose that you feel like your body really needs, you'll take that right now. I'm just going to hug my knees in and rock side to side, and back and forth. Have deep gratitude for my body right now.

Thankful I took the time to practice. Feeling really grateful in my sides. And then I just (exhaling deep) stretch of the face. Do that two more times, inhale (exhaling deep) Lion's breath, last one. (inhaling and exhaling deeply) And then, very slowly, let the legs go long and straight.

Lift the shoulder blades, find comfort in the floor holding you. And then just let yourself be. And in letting yourself be, release. So, as always, you can stay here as long as you like. The breath in the body breathing fresh.

Freeing up space, wriggling fingers and toes, wrists, ankles. Maybe reaching the arms over, maybe grabbing for a wrist. I like to ladder climb my pelvis, sometimes. And then hug the knees in. So, you roll to the right side, here.

And as you roll to the right side, you just give yourself a moment. Place both hands onto the floor, come up to seated. Hands come to the heart center in prayer, release the breath with an exhale. Inhale. Om.

May we have deep gratitude for all the blessings in our lives, especially in the ones that come in the form of challenges. Namaste.


Johanna L
1 person likes this.
I loved it, and laughed. Did I do the left side?? ... no Thanks !
Lisa H
Great sequence Bex! Loved opening up all the little areas of my sides.
Wonderful practice and very inspiring. Thank you.
Kit & Dee Dee
Great morning
Robin J
Challenging and fun practice thanks
Robin J
I love this practice thank bex
Robin J
Thank you Rebecca

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