Discover with me the function of Side Bends in Yoga!

One of the main purposes and vision in Corpo Giardino – Yoga Practices is to empower you as passion driven women with different Yoga Tools, in order to create and sustain balance in your life.

One of the main resistances I observed in the past years – when it comes to step on the mat at home, move and breathe is lack of knowledge. Too many times I saw confusion, lack of direction that led to procrastination.

This is exactly why I decided to create a series of Blog Post with the focus on different functions/benefits of Yoga Positions and today we are going to explore the function of Side Bends in Yoga. I want to give you basic knowledge and concrete actions to apply it immediately in your “at home” practice.

If on one side it’s essential to be guided by an expert Yoga Facilitator, on the other side I find more and more important to begin to practice independently and with freedom.

Self-Practice can be seen as a gateway for a deeper connection with yourself, your possibilities, limitations and needs. It empowers you, because it shows you where you are exactly right now, what you need and how to get there.  Do you want to learn more about Self Yoga Practice? Click here:

And of course, it works perfectly when you don’t have time or the schedule of a class doesn’t match with yours.

Function over the Form 

With the synchronization of breaths and movements, we can release physical, emotional and mental blockages. In this way, Prana can be released and can move freely in the body and in our system. We can then process emotions and feelings that were stagnant, become lighter and replenish our energy. 

As you can read, the goal of a Yoga Practice is not to achieve a specific body type or a specific form. When we move away from an idea or form, we think of a specific position, and shift our attention on the function instead, we tap in the intelligence of the body and sequencing.

When the function is clear, we have the power to decide when and if to integrate a specific position or not.

Let’s dive deep into discovering the benefits of side bending on an emotional, physical, mental and energetic level.

Physical Effects and Benefits of Side Bends in Yoga

On the physical level, anytime we flex our spine on the side (lateral flexion) we are side bending.

The following are the main benefits of side bending:

  • bringing balance between the two side of the body
  • lengthening the lateral line, hips and lateral muscles of the abdominal area on one side and strengthening the opposite one
  • stretching the muscles between the ribs (intercostal muscles); as we normally breathe with 20% of our lung capacity, these muscles tend to be very tight and tense. Side Bending helps to create space, release tensions and improve breathing function
  • improving digestions, assimilation and elimination of foods

A classical example of side bending is Trikonasana (pic above).


When we bend on the side it essential to keep in mind a couple of things:

  • In the standing position, keep your feet grounded and your legs activated to have a solid support. Make sure that your spine is not crunching to the side, but lengthening. Imagine that you are lengthening from  the crown of your head.
  • In the seated positions make sure that both seat bones are magnetized to the floor and the legs are active. Also here, make sure your spine is lengthening to the side.

If you keep these elements in mind, you are able to practice in safety and with awareness.

Emotional/Mental Effects and Benefits

Imagine that the physical alignment is like the foundations of your pose: when your body is safe, then you can focus on different levels or aspects of yourselves.

The best way to experience what happens on a mental and emotional level when we side bend, is to practice it. Next time you are going to practice side bends, notice where your chitta – mind – is going, which type of emotions are coming up and how you feel in general.

Again, use your Self- Practice as a gateway to get to know you better, on a deeper level.

In general, the more we focus our attention on the upper part of the body, the more we are going to open, uplift and revitalize it. The emotions and feelings connected to side bending are:

  • joy, presence, openness
  • energizing and revitalizing effect
  • motivated and stimulated

Tips: So, anytime you feel your energy under your shoes and heavy, focus your attention on the side and upper part of the body. Your mood, energy level and presence will shift immediately, I promise you. 

Energetic Effects and Benefits

For the Hatha Yoga Tradition, there are 5 main different Prana Vayus (winds), 5 different energies, in our body with of course different effects.

When we bend forward, we stimulate 3 main Prana Vayus: Vyana, Prana and Udana.  

Vyana is considered the master- Vayu, it manages and integrates the other 4 energetic winds. We can find it everywhere in our body; it regulates the nerves, blood circulation, movements and muscles. 

Prana is an upwording energy located in the upper body, especially lungs and heart. It’s deeply connected to the inhale, bringing more vitality and energy in our system. Connected to our immune system, function of the heart and lungs. 

Udana is located in the throat and head, it transforms the energy coming from the lower part of the body. Seat of communication, it produces the tone of our voice. 

On an energetic level then, Side Bends help us to center, stabilize, open and strengthen.

Your next step 

Take your time to digest all the information I shared with you, I know that was a lot.

When you are ready to integrate side bends in your daily practice, here are the following steps:

#1 Practice the 30′ Yoga Flow focused on Side Bends, which you can find at the end of this blog post.

#2 Share your experience with me, using the comment section below, Facebook or with a direct email.

And of course, if you have questions, desires, needs – please reach out, I am here for you!

Enjoy your self Practice and let me know how it goes :)

with love