The Vinyasa Show Artwork
Season 2 - Episode 5

Supported by the Side Body

45 min - Practice


Alexandra guides us through an exploration of the side body to stretch, strengthen, and stabilize from the outer hips down to the pinky toes. We begin with a seated practice to bring awareness to our side body with our breath and imagination. The practice becomes progressively more fluid as we move toward a flow designed to generate heat and play with connecting the dots.
What You'll Need: Mat

About This Video


Read Full Transcript

(waves crashing) Hello and welcome to today's practice. We'll be exploring the side body. The side body is not only upper body, it's also outer hips, outer thighs, right down to our outer heels and pinky toe. So we'll be exploring that all the way, the whole line, and stretching it, exploring it, we'll also be strengthening it, which also is a very important component for our stability, for our support. So as the core, like the core, supports us, so that we don't fall forward, we don't fall back.

The side body holds us together. Okay. So let's start with a centering, rounding breathing practice to just become aware of our side bodies and breathe into them. So we'll be breathing into the arm, into the right side, into the left side, okay. So close your eyes.

Find your seat. Sometimes its nice to have blanket under your sit bones. If you're feel like you're rounding your back, it's hard to get up. So be comfortable. If it's appropriate for you to close your eyes, if it feels okay, do so.

Otherwise, keep your gaze gently downwards. Undisturbed. Breathe in to your belly. Breathe in to your heart. Breathe in towards your third eye, or the crown of your head.

Find your mid-line. Okay. So as you inhale start focusing to your right side. You don't have to focus on any particular part of your right side, it's just go right. See what happens to your breath.

Maybe even you touched a particular part at first. Maybe something is really apparent to you right now. So usually we just start generally. And then we start moving in toward specific spots. So my suggestion is bring your awareness to your right nostril, and as you inhale and exhale through your right nostril, find that your breathing fills up your right side.

The right side of your face. The right side of the neck. Your right shoulder. Your right arm. Breathe into it.

Beware of the nuances. Beware of any changes, anything that occurs. Without questioning it necessarily, just watch and observe. Breathe in to your right palm. Your right side body.

The right hip. Out to your right knee. The right thigh, and the lower leg. Notice your lower leg and your foot touching the floor. And then take a breath for your whole right side.

It's like your putting everything together. Then gently move your focus over to your left nostril, which can take a little time, that's okay, take your time. And as you start breathing in and out through your left nostril, find that you also touch the left side of your face. Left shoulder, left side of your neck, your left arm, the side body on the left side. All the way from your armpit to your hip.

Notice how you touch your left thigh, the left knee. And as you touch these different places maybe you notice something aching, or pleasure, again just notice it. Breathe into your lower leg on your left side in your foot. Notice how your left foot touches the ground. Breathe into the left backside of your body.

The sit bone on the left side. The left shoulder blade. Okay. And very gently, again move over to your right. Right shoulder blade, down the back, the right side.

Your right sit bone. Finally, breathe in through both nostrils. And somehow can you find yourself gathering yourself. Putting yourself together. Both halves of the body.

Nice. So gently open your eyes. Notice what you have in front of you. Sweet. Okay.

So cross your legs a little deeper. I'm having my right leg crossed in front of my left. We're gonna change that later. So being here, find your sit bones. Left sit bone, right sit bone.

Elongate your spine, your side body. Sometimes it can even help to take your fingers at your side and just open it up. Follow it. Lift your navel up. Your heart is open.

And fold. Then let us keep our elbows to the knees, to the thighs. If your lower back starts to round come up again, do the whole thing we just did. Elongate the spine, the side body, soften in your neck, and fold with your heart leading the way. For some of us it's nice to take our fingers forward.

Some of us more, some of us less. Whatever feels okay, and as long as you can keep your heart blossoming, so your heart doesn't shut in. Your heart opens. Soften in the face. Wobble a little.

So anything that's stuck usually can open with a little rocking. A little wobbling. That's why they invented the rocking chair. I don't know actually. So from here let's go over to our left side.

And from our left side, fingertips to the floor. Some of us like to keep our palms down. I enjoy the fingertips to the floor. It gives me more opportunity in the shoulders. Lift navel up toward the heart.

The heart in between the shoulder blades. Rounding your upper back. And your forehead is dropping down in direction to your knees. And some of us touch the knee. That's not necessary.

It's just a direction. It's just a way where we're going. And again, wobble a little. Find out where your extra stiff. Where there's an achy, sticky spot.

Overall it feels really, really good. Inhale. And keep going over to your left. Down on to your left fingertips. In line with your hips.

Now lift your right are up towards the sky. And reach over to the side. Inhale, come all the way up. Exhale, fold over to your right side. Inhale, come all the way up.

And over to your left side. So fold forward. This is nice for the lower back. Come all the way up. And switch sides.

On an inhale, reach, on an exhale fold forward or turn. So last time and we'll hold. Let's hold on to our right side. Stretch. Soften the shoulders.

Again if you bend the elbows, there's more opportunity in the shoulders. Roll your shoulders back. And open up. Okay, so inhale, all the way up. Exhale, twist turn.

And it's the heart turning. The heart is showing you the way. Keep your sit bones grounded to the floor. Maybe a gaze back, if the neck allows you too. Ahh.

Inhale. Come all the way back again. So just pause. Pause and notice what happened. Notice the effects.

Can you notice any difference in your side body? Right hip, left hip. So as your ready, cross your legs the other way. Usually it's the lesser comfortable way. Inhale, lift your heart up.

Exhale, and fold forward. Again, some of us just enjoy being around here. The effect is still there. It's not that we don't feel anything because we don't go deeper. It depends what kind of anatomy we have.

What we're born with. And what day job we have. And all that. Okay. Fingertips to the floor.

If you wish to go forward, breathe into it. Lift. Exhale and soften the neck. Again, breathe into lift. Maybe wobble a little.

Exhale, fold. Soften in your jaw. As you inhale here and lift, walk over to your right side. Navel lifting up towards the heart. Heart lifting up between the shoulder blades.

And forehead drops gently down in direction toward your knees. So this will give you a nice stretch to your left side. The back side mostly. If you want it a little more intense, just walk forward with your fingertips on your left side. Gently lift up so much that you can walk over a little more to your right side.

Right fingertips to the floor. Right hand to the floor. Whatever feels appropriate for you. And open up your heart towards the sky. Inhale, lift.

Exhale, deepen. Inhale, lift. Exhale, deepen. Some of us like to gaze down. Some of us gaze up.

Depends on what the neck likes to do. Again. Inhale lift. And I'm over to the left side. You know yoga teachers have two left sides, and two right sides.

(laughter) Maybe come all the way to the front. Open up. All the way to the front. Open up. So one last time, over to the left side.

Next time you come over to the right side, hold here, soften your shoulders, soften the elbows, so you can give yourself a little bit more opportunity to move and open up holes. So breathe into your left side. It's like your left side expands. Move down into your left sit bone. Soft in the shoulder.

Come all the way up. Lift your heart. Turn over to your left side. I like to keep my palm open because it's a little bit more of a surrendering motion. I'm not trying to do anything.

It's just let this happen. Inhale, lift. Exhale, maybe deepen. Okay. Inhale, come all the way back to center.

And again, notice the effects. And the best way to notice the effect, or maybe the easiest way to begin with is to compare. Left side to the right side. Before, Now, After. Okay.

So we gotta come up on our knees. So bring yourself up on your hands and knees. Shoulder width apart with the hands. Hip with the part with the knees. Some of us like to tuck our toes in.

It gives us a little bit more stability, a little bit more strength. Some of us like to keep our feet flat. Inhale with the heart up. Arch the back. Exhale.

Roll yourself round. Again, inhale. Lift the heart. Last time, roll yourself round. Soften in the neck.

Come back to neutral. So let's lift the left leg back, toes pointing down. Slight outer rotation and place the foot in line with your right toe. If you want to make this a little challenging, than you keep the foot, the knee, the hand in line. Make it a little bite more comfortable.

You could take your foot back. Start with just finding your stability. Root down into that outer heel of your left foot. So as your root down into your outer heel. Can you start feeling your outer thigh?

And the outer hip corresponding to the heel. As you do that, lengthen your side, lift up through your left fingertips. It's like the heal signaling to your fingertips to lengthen. From here, exhale and move int to yourself. Into a cable.

Inhale Hallelujah. Exhale... I call this Shrek. But I don't know if I am allowed to say so. But that's a Shrek pose.

Hallelujah. Exhale, soften the neck. Inhale, and hold. I feel like I'm rounding my side. If that's possible for you.

If it feels nice, try. And place the hand down, come back with the knee. Take the same arm, so the left hand, sweep it under your right arm. Under your right armpit. We're up on our fingertips.

Take and lift your right leg up towards the sky. This requires some stability. And then we're gonna do a little sweeping forward of the right leg. So we can place this leg, lined with the left knee. And come all the way up.

So usually my foot is a little too far forward, or a little too far back, so get it in line. Inhale, reach your arms up. Exhale fold over toward your extended leg. Inhale up, let the shoulders drop. Exhale and over to your right side.

Inhale up. To your right side, exhale so lot less time. Inhale up, root down into the Earth. And from here, over to your right side. Breathe into it.

Come all the way up and place your left fingertips to the floor. Lift the right let all the way up. Ah! And come back down to Earth. Settle. And now we're gonna do the second side in just a second.

And let's just create a little movement in the shoulders. So take your arms out. Hug yourself with your right arm under. Grab a hold of your shoulder blades and tuck your fingers in toward the middle. Then lift your hands up.

If this is difficult, then having a belt here would help. Okay. So from here, lift up your elbows, so that you're sort of looking and gazing into creases of the elbows. Lift the navel up towards the heart. Sit bones go down because this tends to create an arch in the back.

So slightly, tailbone down, inhale in between your shoulder blades. Soften in the neck. Start doing small circles with the arms. And that the circles get a little larger. And maybe a little larger.

Opening up the sides. Going to the other side. Little back then. Whatever feels good for you. You'll be doing it differently than how I'm doing it.

If you're listening into your body, and then stop. Stop in a place that feels really like, oh this is really sticky, stiff. And breathe into it. Inhale, move back to center. Release your arms.

Exhale. Other side. We had the right arm under last time. This time it's the left arm under. Turn your arms toward each other.

Lift the elbows and just settle for a little moment. Your getting the body used to what's going on first. And then start moving. You can do your circles, your movements, small. They can be very loud, big.

Sometimes they're hardly noticeable. Just however you choose to do your movements, do them gently, so that you touch all the spaces that need to be touched without the body feeling that it needs to protect itself from the movement. Get your back and yourself into that little stiff spot. Take some time to find it. Breathe into it.

And as you're ready. Come back to center. Release and inhale. Exhale, and get your arms down. You settle.

Notice the effects. It feels nice when you release. So let's get back on to all fours. So let's take our right leg back. Inhale it here.

Toes pointing down to begin with. Then an outer rotation. So you place your foot down the inside of the foot, to the outside of the foot. Pinky toe, big toe, heel. And again, if you want a challenge, you let everything stay in line.

If you want it a little more say comfortable, if you have time to think about something else, then just staying in balance, then take the foot out. So round here. Lift up your right arm. Just be aware so that so that the head doesn't fall, doesn't slump, and once you found your stability, exhale, move into shrek. Yes, Shrek The Ogre.

Inhale, lift all the way up. Exhale, Shrek the Ogre. That's interesting because we have the Hallelujah inside of us, but we also have the ogre inside of us. Inhale, lift up. Exhale one last time here.

Inhale, open up and hold, and breathe in to your right side from the heel. The outer thigh. Feel it like lifting. It's like your radiating. The outer side.

Soften up the neck. Soften the shoulders. Allow collapsing. So from here bring your hand all the down to the Earth again. Bring your knee down.

We're taking the same hand we had in the air. The right arm, all the way up to the side, so that up on your left fingertips. So you have your wrist under your elbow. So you can bring your shoulder in. Lift your left leg up, spread your toe.

Imagine that I'm pressing up toward something. Give me a little stability. From here, very gently. Notice how you wobble and how you keep your balance. Place your foot towards the Earth.

And again, I never know where it is. It's always often to far back. Get up, it's like yay, right spot. So from here, see that you have your knee under your hip. And that you keep your side body tall and long.

Inhale towards the sky. Exhale and open up your right side. Inhale, rise. Exhale, fold. Inhale, rise.

Exhale, fold. Let's do it one more time. Inhale, rise. Exhale, fold. Be mindful of your knee on the back of your straight leg.

Just soften. And open up your right side. Inhale, all the way up. And we're going over to our right fingertips. Lifting the left leg, pressing out.

Lifting up towards your fingertips. And place everything back on the Earth. Okay. And soften. So for this next one.

This next shoulder opener. Instead of opening up. We're opening up the chest. Let's take our right arm up. Bend the elbow.

Fingertips between the shoulders. They're like working themselves down. It looks something like this. So roll the shoulder open. Take your time.

Some of us enjoy to just stay here. And some of us who try to catch those fingertips. Touch them. If this is not feeling accessible to you, if you have a belt, then this makes it more possible. Just find that belt.

And as you find your hand, find the belt, find your pose, soften, roll your shoulders and your heart open. Soften in the neck. And again, when you're ready, do your circles. Just like your drawing circles with your elbow up in the sky. One side, turn to your other side.

Soften in the face. Okay. Come back to center. Hold. And gently release.

Other side. Inhale, lift up the left arm. Fingertips working their way down. Maybe you keep your hand on your elbow. Maybe attempt to try to walk those fingertips up.

Maybe you grab a belt. Inhale, lift the heart up. And exhale, settle into it. Now the elbow works itself up. The one that you're holding on to.

If you have an elbow pointing down, then it is working itself like in and down. I'm just gonna hold on to this. When you're ready. Maybe you started already. Turn, twirl, open up.

So be mindful of moving in a way that you have a chance to notice those spots. Sometimes we move so quickly they disappear. They don't become noticeable for us. And gently come back to neutral. Let go of your arm, of your whole.

And settle. Okay. So let's get back up on all fours. From here we'll be coming up to dog. So root down.

Tuck in your tows and root down. Take your seat back. Lift it. Usually it's nice to start with the knees bent. And then let one heel down, the other knee bent.

Let the other heel down, the knee bent on the opposite side. Since we're working with side body you could turn your heel to the other side of the mat. Like left heel working down towards the ground. Right heel works down towards the ground, towards the left side. As I'm coming into warrior one feet, warrior one position.

This is nice for the outers. Okay. So gaze forward. Walk your feet forward. Take one big step at a time.

And hold here with Anasma. Inhale hands to your hips. Bend your knees gently. Come all the way up. And pause.

So just like we did in the foundation sequence, root down into the four corners of your feet. From that, lift into the outer hips. It's like broadening your hips gently. Not much, it' just a gentle broadening. And can you feel yourself just a little more stable here.

Okay, broaden your mid line out towards the side. This is your mid line. And your hips grow a little bigger. Nice and big hips. Out towards the side.

Thighs grow out. Okay. It's like your glowing in your sides. You're glowing. Keep that glow.

Inhale, reach up. Stay, broadening your hips, bend the knees, and fold. Inhale, gaze forward, side body long. Exhale. Take your right foot back.

Place the heel to the floor. Left hand on the inside of the foot. Bend your knee towards 90 degrees. And sweep your right arm up into partial vakrasana. So bend the elbow so you have an opportunity to open up the heart.

Tuck in your lower ribs. Lift the heart up towards the chin. So from here, inhale. Exhale deepens, soften in the skin. Take your hand all the way up to your hip.

Inhale, reach the front leg straight. Or strengthen the front leg gently. Taking your outer hip back gently. And the outer hip on the right leg goes down to your outer heel. Again, it's like you're glowing on your outer side.

Lift up the right arm if it feels appropriate for you. Some of us just enjoy having it on the hip. Opening up the shoulder. Let's bend it. Leave the knee.

Come all the way up. Warrior two. Lift up to your... Sometimes I hear this is called sun warrior. Nice.

All the way back to warrior two. Take your hands out. It's like partial vakrasana, but we're not using any support. We're using our side body support. Lift the heart, open up.

Let's come all the way up again. Reach the leg. Turn over towards the short side of the mat. Lift the back heel. Bend the knee and come down on the back knee.

Inhale, lift up to krestiv. Exhale, fold. Take your left leg back. Lift up to your dog. And roll to your plank.

Some of us enjoy our knees to the floor. Bend your elbows, place your hips. I like to take my hands back in this back bend. Lift the heart, reach the fingertips back. Hands under your shoulders.

Let's get back to dog. And we have one more side. So inhale. Life the right leg up. Exhale in between your hands.

Place the heel down towards the Earth. Toes pointing toward the long side of the mat. I like to take my right hand, the actual hand that's gonna be to the ground on the inside of the leg. There are variations on the outside. I enjoy this one.

Inhale, lift up the left arm. Reach. And then just soften. Once you get into the form. Soften a little.

See if there's anything in the form you want to change. And then open up again. Maybe your gaze go down. Take your hand back to your hip. Straighten out your front leg gently.

Open up, lift your navel up to your heart. Heart up towards your chin. And turn your navel and your heart up towards the sky. Tuck in the lower ribs then. Lift the left arm.

Inhale here. Exhale just soften, deepen. Inhale, lift up again. Warrior two. Lift up your right arms.

Stretch out your front leg. Root down into your heel. Pinky toe side on the front foot. Come back to your warrior two. Part vakrasana, with just your own strength.

No support from your elbow, if you don't want to do it that way of course. Lift the navel and the heart up. And turn. This is hard. Let's just keep it for a little while longer.

Inhale. Come all the way up. Stretch the leg. Get your arms down toward the Earth. Step on the back heel which needs a little stability.

Inhale, lift back knee to the floor, and fold. Bring yourself to your dog. Take a couple of inhales, exhale. Lift up on your toes. Get your knees down towards the Earth.

Out towards the side of the mat. Big toes touching, sit bones towards the heel. Snuggle into your child's pose. We see the few breaths here as you exhale. Soften down into the Earth.

Let your torso be held by the thighs. Soften in the face, in the arms and the skin. Bring your arms back to your knees and lift up gently, to sitting. We're gonna do a few sitting forward folds. Before this, again a belt is nice to have.

It's not required. It depends what kind of body you have. But it's nice to have. It creates a little bit more freedom. If you don't have a belt like this, a yoga belt, any sort of belt will do.

Even a sock will do. So reach one leg out. I reached my right leg out. Usually like 90 degrees angle will do. We're going to open up further later on.

So let's just do this to begin with. So take your belt, bend the knee. Place your belt on the mound of the foot. The big toe, little toe pressing out. Lift your heart up, roll your shoulders back.

Sit bones down towards the Earth. Its nice to bend the knee just gently to begin with. Inhale, on your exhale, fold. See how far you need to reach with the belt. Inhale, lift.

Bend the knee. Exhale, straighten, and fold. Inhale, lift. So bending the knee is a release for your hamstrings. And fold.

Soften in the face and the neck. If it is possible to grab the foot, then you grab the foot. If you feel like your rounding your back to get to that, then this is a better option. Inhale, come all the way up. Let's open up a little bit more.

So we do some side stretching from here. Placing the belt behind me, I'm not needing it right now. Inhale, reach your arms up. Exhale, fold over to the side. Inhale, all the way up.

And over to the side. So I'm taking my hand out towards the other knee, but you can place it on the inside of the thigh. Inhale up. And now we stay. So, reach up, open the heart.

Again tuck your ribs. And this is something I often need to think about. Maybe you are alike. Maybe we gaze down because that's what the neck needs. We're down in to both sit bones.

Inhale all the way up. Turn over to your left side. So once we turn away from a part of our body it has a tendency to stop resisting. So just take a look, spread your toes. Keep your right sit bone down, or at least engaged.

Now let's go all the way back. Cross your legs, settle. And let's do the other side. So first we fold forward. I mean the right side and left side don't necessarily need to be the same.

So maybe what is needed for one side is not necessary for the other. Or maybe it is. So lift the heart up. Spine long, elongate your sides. And fold with the heart directing the way your heart taking it towards your toe.

It's not your head taking you towards your toes, it's your heart taking you toward your toe. Bend the knee. Lift up. Exhale. Bend the knee, lift up.

Exhale, fold. Inhale, come all the way up. Let go of the belt because its really not needed for this next one. Inhale, reach your arms out. Fold over to the side.

Inhale out. Fold over to the side. Let's do a few more like this. Once you feel ready to hold, again find your form, the framework, what you're in and then see how you can change it in what way is appropriate for you. What feels good.

Come all the way up. Turn over to your right side. Heart lifting. Beware of your left side, your left leg. They're there to support you also.

And unwind. So pause and the effect of what you just did. Notice your right side, your left side. Notice your breath. And I'm happy just to be sitting here.

And I think I'll end the practice here for me. But if you wish to lie in shavasana, then lie down, arrange for what you need to be perfectly comfortable. If you wish to sit with me, then please do so. Close your eyes. And again, notice, be aware of your side bodies.

And gather yourself in your center. From your center. Bring your hands to your heart.


Bhakti Foster
Super awesome!
Johanna L
1 person likes this.
Thank you
1 person likes this.
Gorgeous! Love downward dog with feet at 90degrees to one another!
Alexandra Kambler
Ali, the asanas are to be explored! Nothing is static ;) Enjoy!
Sandra Židan
I loved this creative practice today! Thanks, Alexandra, for sharing it with us! Kind regards! 💖
Alexandra Kambler
Wonderful! 😊

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial