Most of us are familiar with forward or backward stretches, but keep in mind that your spine also needs to stretch to the sides. Practice the first variation of this yoga pose, then move on to the more advanced version to deepen the intensity. Always remember to breathe deeply and fully while holding this side bend.
Sit upright on the floor with your left leg extended out to the side. Bend your right knee, bringing your foot to the inside of your right thigh. Place your left hand or forearm on the floor near your left inner thigh. Inhale and raise your right hand up to the ceiling. On an exhalation, lean to the left and place your right hand behind your head. Turn your head to look upward, moving your elbow backward. Feel a deep stretch in the right side of your waist. Hold this position for three to six breaths. Return to center and repeat on the other side, or proceed to the more advanced variation.
Inhale and straighten your right arm upward. On your exhalation, move deeper into the stretch by leaning closer to your extended leg. Keep both buttocks on the floor with your chest and hips facing forward. After three to six breaths, return to the start position and switch sides.
Voight is the creator of a line of fitness DVDs, including "Full Body Stretch" and "Ballet BodySculpt."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times