Try Standing Side Bend for Spinal Health

standing side bend poseStanding side bend, also known as Parsva Tadasana, is considered by some to be a variation of Mountain pose. (You may recall that Tadasana is the Sanskrit name for Mountain pose.)  Although this may be true, I wanted to take some time to highlight this variation because side bends are so important for spinal health.

Side bends are great because they allow your spine to practice side flexion. Side flexion is when you face forward and let your spine bend to the side. Personally, I don’t think that I perform much side flexion in a day.

I might use my hip to shift my child or a heavy bag up higher into my arms. Perhaps, I’m seated in a chair and bend to the side to pick something up beside me. Those are examples of where you may see side flexion in your day.

Even if there’s not much side flexion in your life, you need your muscles to be able to perform this activity when asked. Sometimes bulging discs can occur because one side of the spine is very tight. By performing strategic exercises, you can sometimes work a bulged disc back into place.

If you keep your spinal muscles healthy, you make it less likely that you will create a back injury. Here’s more about the easiest side flexion exercise you can practice.

Standing Side Bend

  1. Use ujjayi breathing.
  2. Begin in Tadasana.
  3. Inhale both arms up toward the ceiling with your palms facing each other. Actively reach your fingertips toward the ceiling so you feel a good stretch along the side of your body.
  4. Here, you have a choice of how you want your hands. You can lower your right hand as you exhale or clasp your hands together.
  5. As you exhale, think of lifting up and over as you bend to the right side.
  6. Hold for two or three breaths.
  7. Inhale to come up to center. If your right arm was lowered, raise it toward the ceiling on your inhale.
  8. As you exhale, bring your left arm into the same position the right one was in and lift up and over as you bend to the left.
  9. Hold for two or three breaths.
  10. Inhale to come up to center.
  11. You can complete another set of this stretch or finish here.

Standing Side Bend Video

Here is a video for visual learners.

What is your favorite way to practice side flexion? Let us know in the comments below.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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