Here are instructions for how to do a variation of yoga side bends.
Type of yoga pose: Standing
Body parts targeted: Waist (you will definitely feel the toning action here!), thighs, and spine.
How to do the pose:
1. Stand tall, straight, and relaxed with your hands and arms at your sides. Your feet should be apart about shoulder width and facing forward.
2. Gently and slowly raise your arms out from your sides until they are extended sideways, elbows straight at shoulder level and palms facing down.
3. Inhale and bend in slow motion (as if in a dream…) to your left, taking at least 5-10 seconds to reach your farthest position (and it may not be too far when you start out with this pose!).
4. When you have reached as far as you comfortably can, hold the pose motionless for 10 seconds and exhale and inhale as needed. Keep your knees straight during your hold. Feel the s – t – r – e – t – c – h. Also, tighten your buttock muscles as you hold the pose to enhance its firming benefits.
5. After your set holding time has elapsed, again in slow motion, straighten out of the pose and move back into a upright, standing position with arms extended sideways with elbows straight at shoulder level and palms facing down. Allow your hands to drop slowly to your side.
6. Breathe in and out slowly and relax for a few seconds.
7. Repeat the pose on your right side and remember to move gracefully!
Practice time: Hold the pose 10 seconds on each side. Add a few seconds a week until you are comfortable holding the pose for 25-30 seconds on each side.
Number of repetitions: 1-2
Key benefits from this pose:
1. Firms and strengthens the waist muscles and help reduce weight in the waist.
2. Tones and firms seldom used muscles in the thighs.
3. Strengthens and stretches side muscles and eliminates tension in them.
4. Gives the spine a beneficial sideways stretch.
Special hints and Laura’s experience with this pose:
This stretch is an easier one for most starting yogis. However, if you have been inactive for a long time and rarely move much from side to side, you will feel the stretch in your waist and side.
As stated above, try to keep your knees straight. If you find this difficult, just don’t bend down as far to each side when you start out. Also, when you move into your stretch toward your side, let your head hang down with your neck limp. Be certain to lean to your side and not toward your front or back (I have been guilty of this...!)
As with other hatha yoga poses, gravity will do its work over time. You should notice you can bend farther and more comfortably to each side as you do this pose regularly. And, as you increase your time holding the pose, you will feel energized and more flexible after doing the pose!