I’ve heard the notion that the sides of our bodies are lonely parts. I get that. If you think of all the ways a body can move – bending forward, bending backward, and rotating – bending sideways is much more unfamiliar terrain.
The pose above, revolved head-to-knee pose (parivrtta janu sirsasana), is best done near the end of your yoga practice, when you’re properly warmed up. A great way to work is to first do this pose on each side, and then repeat and hold longer on the second round. That’s when you get to surrender and feel the increased space of the inner organs: liver, gall bladder, stomach, spleen and, of course, lungs.
At the finish of your session, after you’ve done revolved head-to-knee pose and just before savasana, try this. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out and together and bend forward into double-leg forward stretch (paschimottanasana). Hold wherever you can, hands on shins or hold onto your feet. After stretching up and out, bring your extension into the sides of your waist and ribs. Then, take the stretch into the outside of your shoulder blades, upper arms and elbows, even bending them. See how much your side body helps increase your forward momentum. It will feel good, like an itch that has been scratched. And maybe like the sides of your body are not so lonely anymore.