Side Stretch to increase lung capacity and flush the nervous system

Seated Side Stretch


  • Stretches side body (obliques), ribs, shoulders and arms
  • Lengthens spine and brings fresh blood flow to upper extremities of the body
  • Allows for increased expansion of the lungs on the side that is being stretched which refreshes the oxygen in the lower lobes of the lungs
  • Calms body and relieves stress and anxiety
  • Stimulates lymph flow in the underarm area
  • Releases tension in the back. Breathing into the back stimulates relaxation and gives the upper and lower back a bit of a massage by the expansion and contraction of the ribs with the full breath
  • Lengthens spine and brings fresh blood flow to upper extremities of the body
  • Stimulates nervous system
  • Massages and stimulates internal organs providing improved blood flow and fresh oxygen


  • Not recommended for disc problems; foward bends put pressure on lower back disc
  • Consult your doctor or physiotherapist if you suffer from disc problems or sciatica. This stretch may aggrevate or help these conditions. Each person is different. Stop right away if you feel back pain of any kind
  • Untreated low or high blood pressure; consult physician
  • Not recommended if there is abdominal or lower back injury
  • If dizziness occurs, stop and consult physician; you may have a blood pressure issue
  • Not advised to do after just eating or on a full stomach

Key Points

  • Soften down and lengthen up from the waist
  • Soften gaze
  • Breathe slowly and deeply through nose
  • Sit comfortably on front or centre of chair allowing room for movement
  • Keep back of head and lower back lined up and stacked – Imagine you are lengthening up and over along a wall – keep body along that imaginary wall
  • Inhale to lengthen up and exhale to extend over
  • Sitting bones are rooted softly in seat – if standing then keep lower pelvis neutral on left and right side
  • Once you have done this for a while and are comfortable, hold side bend for a few breaths if possible; this will accentuate the stretch, blood flow and attention to the side body


  • Start in neutral sitting or standing position
  • Bring awareness to nostril breathing
  • Allow your body to lengthen from the waist up, on the inhale. You should feel this expansion happening on all inhales. This is subtle but present
  • Gaze is softened
  • If you are on a chair bring yourself to the front it so that you have lots of room to stretch with your upper body
  • Starting on an inhale, raise the left arm up along the the left side, lengthening up. Your palm of the left hand starts out facing up.
  • When it is directly above you it is facing the floor. The right hand is helping to support you by holding onto the seat or arm of your chair if you are sitting. If you are standing then keep right hand along right side of body.
  • As the arm reaches directly above you start to exhale over to the right side keeping the left sitting bone rooted down and imagining that your back body is on a wall. Keep both shoulders back
  • With each exhale, allow yourself to soften into your roots of your sitting or standing position, letting go of any tension you may be holding in your bottom area
  • Make sure the pelvis is neutral on the left and right side in your seat or standing
  • Do not lean over too much on the right side. The stretch comes from lengthening up and over. Soften both sitting bones down with equal balance of weight on them as you go over
  • Inhale the arm back up to directly over the head and exhale it back to starting position
  • Repeat on the opposite side
  • Gaze is forward for beginners
  • If you are very comfortable and do not have any neck strain you may look up to the palm of the hand that is stretching over. This will provide a stretch to the neck

Consider This

  • The side body needs to be stretched as well. Just by stretching from time to time, you are energizing and stimulating the organs in the trunk of the body. You are also strengthening and strengthening the oblique muscles on the sides of the body. Side stretches also stretch the lungs which helps to bring fresh oxygen to the lower lobes where we sometimes have ‘stale’ air that needs to be moved.



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