We can often neglect the sides of our body in everyday life. Sitting at desks, driving and even eating, sees us in forward-facing movement. Simply put, lateral bends are not that common in our daily lives, yet there are incredible benefits to be gained from that movement.
Side bends bring balance to your entire body: they lengthen the abdominal muscles, hips, and thigh muscles, while improving overall flexibility in the spine.
Stretching out the intercostals (muscles between the ribs) will open up the ribcage and lungs, which will improve your breathing capacity. It can also relieve respiratory conditions, such as asthma, allergies, and colds.
Here are some yoga poses focusing on lateral stretching to incorporate into your practice:
Standing Lateral Stretch (Parsva Tadasana) as per above pic
Modified Child’s Pose (walk hands to the right and hold for 5 breaths, recentre, walk hands to the left and hold for 5 breaths)