Side-Lying Stretch or “Banana” pose is a more active pose than the side-lying relaxation pose. This position stretches the intercostal muscles which may help improve respiration and can aid in long-term breathing issues such as asthma. Side-lying stretch may also relieve minor back aches. This pose will increase energy in the body.
Always advise your doctor before beginning any type of yoga practice. Cautions for this pose include major back or shoulder injuries, during menstruation, or if you are more than 3 months pregnant.
To set up this pose, you will want to have several blankets available, a bolster or pillow, and perhaps a block to rest your hand on. Either use your bolster or two or more folded blankets placed at your right or left hip. Roll your body over your props ensuring your side body at your waist is making contact with the prop. You will want to avoid your front or back body from making contact with the props. Your hips or shoulders will not touch the floor in this position. You can rest your head on your lower arm or place a blanket between your head and arm for more support. Your top arm will reach over your head. If it does not reach the floor comfortably, place a block, blanket, or pillow for it to rest on. You should feel a stretch in the side body facing the ceiling. If you do not feel this stretch, place more height underneath you. If you feel any pinching in your back, come out of the pose and readjust your props. Your legs may fall to the mat naturally or you may stretch your top leg in the same direction your body is facing for more activation in the legs. Place any blankets around or in between your legs to add support.
Once you are comfortable in this pose, settle into your breathing and notice how the breath feels almost exclusively on the side facing the ceiling. You may stay in this pose as long as it is comfortable. Average time may be 3 to 5 minutes. If you are new to side-body stretching, you will want to start around a minute on each side. Once your time is up on the first side, use your top arm to place your palm on the mat in front of your face to press yourself up slowly to a seated position. Spend a moment here before transitioning to the other side. Each side of our body is different, so you will want to be mindful of the height of your props. Once your stretch is complete on the final side, press yourself up to a seated position and spend a moment here adjust to the pose.
Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up the pose:
Carey, L. (2015). Restorative yoga therapy: The Yapana way to self-care and well-being.
Lasater, J. (1995). Relax and renew: Restful yoga for stressful times. Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press.