Lets face it: We are creatures of habit. Mostly, we sit, walk, run, and, well, sit some more. Our movement (and lack thereof) and resulting posture is all very forward-oriented — the front of the body (especially across hips and chest) is shortened, the upper back is overstretched, and the head cranes forward. This is not a very balanced way of being in or using our bodies. More importantly, whether you’re a runner, cyclist, or office warrior, if you fail to remind your body what’s possible aside from all that flopping forward, it will literally forget.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much to shift your perspective and bring things back into balance as a result. Our go-to: Side bends. We often recommend  this baby to help open up your lungs and stretch the connective tissue that spans your rib cage — optimal “side stitch” mitigation — but lets get side bendy this fall to also help get you outside your usual range of motion, keep the muscles that live along the sides of your body limber, and shift your perspective beyond your habits. This more balanced way of being affords abundant possibilities…

Try it: Criss-Cross Side Bend

This is our fave side bend variation. Hit it up immediately post-run or –walk, when you hop off your bike, or as a break from sitting at your desk or on your couch.

  • Bring your feet hip's width apart and keep your knees bent slightly.
  • Turn your palms forward and reach your arms overhead.
  • Cross your right arm in front of your left, bringing the backs of your palms together.
  • Cross your right leg over your left, keeping your feet flexed and knees slightly bent.
  • Bend your torso toward the left as you reach your crossed arms to the left —the bend should at the bottom of your rib cage aka the middle of your spine.
  • Be sure you don’t start to flop forward — if that’s tough, don’t bend quite so far.
  • Gently squeeze your inner thighs together to help you balance, while keeping the lower body stable — don’t let your legs/hips/low back move at all, especially as you deepen your bend.
  • Hold for 5–10 deep breaths before switching sides…

Bonus! You can also side bend while sitting or lying down. Follow the key alignment points above and get creative. Lets see how you’re shifting your perspective this fall: Share your side bend pics on Twitter and Instagram with #sidebend and tag @jasyogaseattle @jasyogalondon

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