Good Morning Yoga Artwork
Season 4 - Episode 10

Side Body Love

35 min - Practice


Alana leads us in a sequence designed to help create space in the side body to find more room for the breath. We expand the breath into the rib cage and find more freedom in the side body through a series of floor postures, stretches, and seated twists. You will feel spacious and happy.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video

Jun 20, 2016
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(waves crashing) Good morning. So I woke up this morning with the sense that the only thing certain in life is change. And we can either flow with the change gracefully and consciously or we can work against it. And for me, in those moments of radical change and chaos, there's tremendous creativity and possibilities. There can also be this sense in the morning of like overwhelm and panic, and I tend to feel it with the breath, in the chest, maybe there's a sharp, dull sense of like (groans), "How am I gonna face this day?" So this practice is designed to help create space in the side body, to create more room for the breath.

So we'll explore expanding the breath into the rib cage and then finding more length and freedom through our side body. So join me in child's pose, Balasana. (breathing) And we'll spend a few moments here with our breath. Just begin to observe your breath in this moment. (breathing) And as you bring some attention towards your breath notice where you can soften and relax through your face, maybe your jaw.

Perhaps allowing your hips to get heavy towards your heels. And just taking a few more moments to be with what is. (breathing) As you are ready, on your inhale, rise up onto all fours, into tabletop. And we'll just take some time to explore the movement in the spine, with cat-cow. Allow for an inhale and, as you exhale, begin to curl the tailbone under, get round.

Release the head fully and draw the naval up to the spine, feeling a sensation through the back of your body, your neck. And then as you inhale, roll your pelvis forward, arching through the spine, lengthening through your collarbones, but spacious through the neck. So without jamming your neck and looking up, can you perhaps look down and find more length through the crown of your head. And then on your exhale, begin to get round, hips might draw back towards the heels to exaggerate the stretch in the back body. Maybe gazing towards the naval.

Let the inhale draw the shoulders over the wrists, arching and find more length. And a few more rounds, moving with your breath, exploring the sensation through the spine, the feeling in the back of the body, maybe the shoulder blades. As you find some length through the front of the body, collarbones, maybe the throat, shoulder blades drawing down the back as you arch, and continue on the exhale, get round, curl the tailbone under. Again, you might exaggerate the stretch, drawing the hips back, and then as you inhale, shoulders over the wrists, arching, lengthening, spacious through the neck. One more round together, exhale curls you, get round.

Inhale draws you forward as you find length, arching, and then as you exhale press back to child's pose, again, Balasana, hips towards the heels, forehead towards the floor. (breathing) Allow for an inhale, exhale, relaxing the jaw. And then begin to walk the hands over to your right, so keeping the hips where they are, beginning to explore a stretch through the side body. So first step, come onto your fingertips and begin to traction your heart towards your hands. So you're lengthening the spine.

Coming up onto the fingertips, find that length, and then as you exhale, press into the fingers, reach your left hip away from your left hand. Find that length in the left side body, and then soften the forehead towards the floor, relaxing through the neck. A few full breaths into the left side of your body. (breathing) And rather than forcing your breath, be patient, and allow for the spontaneous inhale to arise, and the exhale to soften. On your inhale walk your fingers, your arms back to the center, and then over to the left.

Walk it out over to the left, and then same idea, spread the fingers and then draw the floor towards you so you're tractioning your heart forward towards your hands. Find that length, and then as you exhale press the floor away from you and draw the right hip away from the right hand. Find that length in the right side body, forehead might rest towards the floor. Find the full expression of your breath in the right side body, without forcing it. (breathing) You might imagine expanding the breath into the right lung, the rib cage, the intercostal muscles.

(breathing) Let the inhale bring you back to center, and then from here sliding the hands out a bit further, so that your hips are over your knees. And then draw your forehead towards the floor, draw the heart towards the floor. Begin to lengthen the side body, so you're reaching your hips away from your hands, easy through your neck, a few full, even breaths into the side body. (breathing) As you're ready, slowly walk your palms underneath the shoulders, again press yourself back into child's pose for a moment. (breathing) On your inhale come forward onto all fours and then lower yourself down.

We'll find a few rolling cobras, Bhujangasana, so take a few moments, bring the forehead to the floor, and then press the top of your feet into the floor, spin the inner thighs up towards the sky, and then bring your fingers, your hands, inline with your nipples as you draw the shoulder blades down the back. And then draw your elbows into your rib cage. And begin to activate your shoulder blades, your scapula, as if you're drawing the scapula in towards your spine and spreading your collarbones. Nice. As you inhale press down into the hands, and rise up, just a baby cobra, begin to lift the heart, feeling the work in the back body as you lift.

And then exhale, draw the heart forward, forehead towards the floor. Again. Inhale lifts you up. Heart drawing forward, shoulder blades down the back. Exhale, brings you down.

Inhale draws you up, you might bring the chin towards the heart, and then slowly peel the head up, drawing the shoulder blades down the back, gaze might look up, spacious in the throat, and then exhale, traction, draw the heart forward. Release the head towards the floor. Let's take three more. Pressing down, inhale, lift up, keep the chin into the heart and then slowly, as you draw the shoulder blades back, peel the heart up, throat spacious. Exhale.

Release. Two more, inhale lifts you up, wide through the collarbones. Exhale, draw forward. Release. Last time, inhale presses you up, chin to the chest, and then slowly find that space, open the upper back, spacious in the throat.

Beautiful exhale and release. Forehead to the floor, reach the fingers towards the toes. Again spin the inner thighs towards each other, press down through the tops of your feet, press through the pinkie toes. Inhale lift up, locust, Salabhasana. Let the legs lift, reach the fingers towards your toes, find that opening through the collarbones, heart, spacious in the throat.

Exhale, release. Let's do this, bring the elbows wide, bring your forehead to your hands, bend your knees, and then let the knees go side to side. In this reverse windshield wiper action. Relaxing some of that effort in the back body, down through the hips. Good, and then when you're ready, slide the palms underneath the shoulders, and then get round, press back, child's pose, hips towards the heels.

And then feel the fullness of your breath into the back body. (breathing) Let the lower back, the sacrum, widen. Softening the gaze. And then inhale, come back onto all fours. From here we'll find a side plank variation.

So bringing the right hand underneath the right shoulder, extend back through your left foot, and then pivot onto the outer left edge. Now that bottom right foot, find about a 45 degree angle, so it's like a nice, comfortable kickstand for you, so that the hip can easily open. And then extending the left arm up towards the sky, or whatever hand is reaching up towards the sky. We're gonna explore some variations through the shoulders, so begin to feel and find the internal rotation, and the external rotation, in just the shoulder joint. Internal rotation and external rotation.

Good, as you come into that internal rotation, you might play with wrapping around towards the hip, spiraling the heart up. Inhale. Exhale, release the left arm up towards the sky. Bring the hand in front of the face now, and up, out, and over, so we're beginning to explore and exaggerate the length in the side body. Press through the outer edge of the left foot as you reach through the fingers.

Get long as you draw the right shoulder blade down the back, and then bend the left knee, and sink down into your hips. And then extend and reach. Feel that dynamic stretch from that left heel towards the fingers, get long, breathe, and then come back and bend, sink into the hips. A few more times, play with this action. So let it feel fluid, let it feel kinda delightful, interesting.

Finding that length through the side body, breathing. Last time, extend, reach, lengthen. And then release the left arm down by the back foot. Come back onto all fours into tabletop. Inhale, arch the body.

Exhale, get round, curl the tailbone under. Draw the hips towards the heels, tractioning the lower back. And then one more time, cat-cow inhale, arching, wide through your collarbones. Again spacious in the neck. And then exhale, curl, and get round.

Traction through the lower back, draw the hips towards the heels. Nice, come back onto all fours. We'll find them on the other side. Bring the left hand under your left shoulder, extend back through your right foot. And then from here, find that comfortable degree with the bottom leg, that left leg.

Again maybe at a 45 degree angle as you extend the right arm up towards the sky, now reach from the heart into both hands, and begin to explore and feel the rotation in the right shoulder, finding that internal rotation, and external rotation. Internal and external. And as you do this, as you find the internal rotation, you might play with, well, what would it feel like to open and perhaps wrap, lengthen, and lift. Breathing. And then gently release it up towards the sky, float the right hand down by the back foot in front of your face, up, out, and over.

Pull after the stretch as you reach, breathe, lengthen, let it feel nice. And then bend the right knee, sink into your hips, and then extend, reach through the outer edge of the right foot, lengthen through the fingers. Again bend the knee, and then exhale, and go after the stretch. A few times like this, playing with this action. Again let it be fluid.

Let it be somewhat playful as you explore and lengthen the side body. One more time, bending, and then extending, reach, lengthen. Inhale, exhale, release the right arm down by the back foot. Come onto all fours. Again inhale, arching the body, and then exhale, curl, and get round.

Drawing the hips towards the heels. Good, come back onto all fours. From here we'll find a plank pose, so drawing the shoulder blades down the back, drawing the naval towards the spine, tuck the toes under, and walk your feet back into plank. We'll pause here for a few breaths. So reaching back through the heels, forward through the heart, full, even breath through the side body.

(breathing) One more inhale, as you exhale press back to downward-facing dog. Taking a few breaths here, you might walk it off a little bit. And stretching, your hamstrings, letting your hips move, warming up the body. (breathing) Good, and then eventually walk your feet next to each other. Root through the fingers, and as you're ready, we'll inhale, reach the right leg up towards the sky.

It might feel nice to let your right hip open as you bend the knee, let the hip open. Breathing. And explore the sensation. Good, and then square the hips, square the hips, flex the right foot. And then lower the right leg.

We'll find that on the left side, root through the fingers, inhale, reach the left leg high towards the sky. Bend your knee and let the hip open and close a few times. Breathing. Exploring the sensation through the body with your breath. Beautiful, release.

One more time, inhale, reach the right leg high, this time we're gonna carry it through to pigeon. So finding your way to pigeon, bringing the foot forward. We're finding your own creative way there. And then squaring your hips and taking a few moments to settle in, you might tuck a blanket underneath your right hip for some support. Inhale to lift the chest.

And then we'll find that cobra action, rolling cobra, you might begin to walk the fingers out in front of you. You might stay right here, this might be perfect for you, this morning, where you're at in your hips. Breathing into where you feel the sensation. You might begin to play with inhale, lifting up, and exhale, softening the elbows, drawing the heart towards the floor. Inhale, lifting.

Exhale, drawing forward. Inhale and lifting. And then exhale. As you come forward, again you might stay where you are, you might release into the shape of pigeon. (breathing) Notice the quality of your breath.

If you need, if and as you need, like an edge of resistance, (breathing) invite the breath in. Exhale to soften. You might gently wiggle or find some movement here as you settle into the shape. (breathing) A few more moments, can you feel here, can you feel, can you find a bit more ease through the back of the eyes, the back of the heart, and out through the hands. (breathing) Slowly, as you're ready, walk your hands underneath your shoulders.

And then finding a side stretch over to the left, so walking the hand out to the left, and then inhaling the right arm up, out, and over to the left, so away from the knee that's bent. Again, encouraging finding that length through the right side body. And then gently releasing. Finding your way back into downward dog, you might tuck the back left toes under, and lift. Might feel nice to pedal the feet out, or if you prefer to extend the right leg up and release after pigeon, you might do that.

You'll find that on the left side, as you're ready, inhale the left leg up towards the sky. And then float the left foot, the knee, between your hands, finding your own way into pigeon. Again squaring your hips. Taking a moment with the fingertips to settle, lift. Again you might tuck a blank underneath your left hip.

You might stay right here and explore, ahh, what it feels like to come forward. Right, letting the body invite you in. If this is quite comfortable, you might play with rolling, inhale, lifting, exhale, softening the elbows, bringing the head towards the floor. Inhale lifts you up. Exhale draws the heart forward.

In times like this, letting the spine move like a wave. Softening the jaw. And then eventually you might release into pigeon. Breathing into where you feel the sensation. (breathing) You'll notice where you can relax any effort.

In the mind, the body. (breathing) Allowing your head to fully release for the last few moments. So for some of you, the head might come down to the floor or the hands. And for some of you, you might bring your hands together in prayer position, and let the forehead rest on the hands. (breathing) And you can find that ease in the hands, back of the heart, back of the eyes.

(breathing) When you're ready, use your hands, walk yourself back up. And then we'll find that side stretch over to the right, walking the fingertips out, and then reaching the left arm up, out, and over. And then inhale, coming back up. Bring the palms underneath the shoulders, tuck the back toes, lift your back leg, come back into downward-facing dog. Again, you might pedal your feet out.

You might even choose to lift your left leg up, the one in pigeon, and just let it open and close. (breathing) As you come into downward-facing dog, feel the fullness of the breath in both sides of the body. (breathing) And then lower the knees. Press the hips back towards the heels, for a moment, child's pose. Slide the palms underneath the shoulders, chin into the chest, and slowly roll up for a moment, towards Vajrasana.

From here, we'll extend our legs out, so coming onto your sit bones, extend your legs out like you're coming into Paschimottanasana. And then just take a few moments here to press down through the palms, flex your feet, and let the spine lift, so you're drawing the heels of the palms towards the floor. Finding that opening, that width through the collarbones, drawing the naval towards the spine a bit, long through the back of the neck. Your hands might press down to the floor or not, just depending on the proportions of your body. And then from here, we'll find a variation of a side stretch, and this is really one of my favorite things to do on the planet.

So, a coupla variations here. You might, depending on your knee, you might come into Janushirasana, which is like a classical left foot into the right inner thigh, as you square the hips, and play with rounding forward. Right, the other suggestion I'll offer is to draw the left knee in. Bring your left hand around the ankle. You might bring your right arm out to the side and then let it open.

So I'll show that again. So you have your left foot on the floor, you might press down through your right hand for support, and then use your hand, and let it open. So the left heel is right up against the bum, the butt. And then take a moment here, reach and lengthen through the left arm. Get long through the left side.

Maintain length on the right side as you begin to stretch and lengthen towards the right. And the tendency oftentimes is to kinda collapse and go after the stretch. So let's try this together. Reach the right arm up, and then begin to extend and lengthen, so we're encouraging length on the underside of the body. Lengthen and then reach the top arm up, out, and over.

There's so many different variations and things to explore in this shape right here. Breathing. (breathing) And imagine like weaving the breath through the entire rib cage. Right, you can explore like rounding the torso down towards the floor. Or even rotating the bottom floating ribs up, and gazing up.

Again finding length through the torso, through the spine. Breathing. (breathing) If you're here and you find you'd like support under your head, you can prop your hand underneath your head, for support. Breathing. (breathing) When you're ready, take a look down, let the inhale carry you up.

And just take a moment to (breathing) pause. (giggles) When you're ready, bring the left hand to the ankle if it's there behind you. And then bring it forward, square the hips, extend through the left leg. We'll find that on the right side again, you might prefer this morning Janushirasana, with the leg out to the side. Bring the right hand to the right ankle, and then keep the knee in. Keep the heel in, as you let the knee open, let the hip open.

Inhale, lift the left arm up, find that length, which is about to be the underside of the body. Find that length. And then let the length begin to carry you forward. As you release, reaching the right arm up. Breathing.

(breathing) Again, here, you might round the torso down. You might even play with rolling the bottom left ribs up. That left arm might even be in front of the leg, or propped underneath the head for support. (breathing) Few more full breaths here. When you've had enough, when you're ready, let the inhale carry you up.

Reach with that top right arm. Bring the hand around the ankle, keep the heel in, bring the foot to the floor, the knee in front of you, and then release the legs. And it might feel nice to just shake it out. And then find your way onto your back. I'm gonna just flip around.

Come on to your back. And reach your arms over the top of the head. Bring the heels inline with your sit bones. Bring the soles of the feet slightly wider than your hips. And take a few moments to find that length again through the side body, from the tailbone all the way up, back of the neck is lengthening.

Allow for an inhale. (breathing) As you exhale, let both knees fall to one side, windshield wipers. Inhale, the knees draw back up. Exhale, the knees fall to the other side. And continue, let the inhale carry the knees up.

Let the exhale bring you over. Inhale, carries you up. Exhale, over. Few more rounds, just nice and easy with your breath. And sensing that length through the side body.

(breathing) And you might pause and linger in a spot that feels quite interesting. Really encouraging the breath, allowing the breath to guide or rather inspire the movement. Few more rounds, side to side. Finding that fluid movement. Good, as you come back to center, hug the knees into the chest.

Might feel nice to curl up, engaging the belly, bringing your forehead towards your knees. Nice and round, and then letting the head release. And rock from side to side. Now from here, if you have the time, you might take a Shavasana or you might choose to roll to your side, and join me for a moment in a sit, to close our practice. Just coming into a comfortable, seated position.

Notice what you do to get comfortable here. (breathing) And then again, spend a few moments just like in the beginning of our practice to observe the quality of the breath. (breathing) Noticing the spontaneous rise of the inhale, the fullness of that expression, and then the fall, the release, the emptiness of the exhale. Joining the hands together. Namaste.

Thank you for joining me. Wonderful day.


Theresa M
Alana speaks yoga love. Beautiful practice.
Alana Mitnick
Hi Theresa, I'm so delighted that you enjoyed this practice. It just feels so good to create more space. Best wishes, Alana
Deana G.
Absolutely loved this. My side body and ribs feel so good. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis and this was just the perfect blend of moves. Definitely marking as a favorite.
Alana Mitnick
Wonderful, Deana! I am delighted to hear that you found some relief (and freedom in the side body) from this practice. So happy to be practicing together on Yoga Anytime! Enjoy, Alana
Safiah H
What a lovely session to start my morning. The pace, length and instructions were perfect. Just what I needed to go into my morning meditation
Alana Mitnick
Good Morning, Sariah! I am so delighted to know that we are practicing together. This is one of my favorite practices to open and clear the side body...heart and mind. Wishing you a wonderful day.
Frederic M
Very sweet flow. Thanks Alana!
Alana Mitnick
Hi Frederic, So glad that you enjoyed the practice. Thank you for being here! ~ Alana
Dannette W
I did this after work and it was a bit of a challenge slowing my pace down. But once I started to truly concentrate on my breathing everything began to flow. Thank You!
Alana Mitnick
I'm so delighted to hear this, Dannette. It's so true... our breath encourages the FLOW. Happy to be practicing together. xo A
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