(Excerpted from Yoga for Paddling with Anna Levesque)
The muscles of the side body are mainly responsible for lateral flexion of the spine and hiking the hip. Kayakers and canoeists activate these muscles for hip snaps, performing the roll, edge control, and stability. SUP paddlers also use these muscles for balance and stability on the board, and when carrying the board by the handle. Stretching and strengthening the side body for full range of motion helps paddlers achieve better balance and control when paddling.
Side angle stretch is a great pose for stretching the top side body and it is a hip opener that also strengthens the legs.
- Start standing at the front of your mat with your feet sitz bones distance apart and parallel.
- Step your right foot back one leg length.
- Lower your back heel down so that the outer edge of your back foot is in line with the outer edge of the mat.
- Keep a slight bend in the back knee and deeply bend the front knee, keeping it in line with the front ankle.
- Take the sitz bones back and apart, and press the heels into the floor to bring tone to the back of the legs.
- Press the back foot strongly into the mat, to take your front forearm to your front thigh, and extend your back arm by your top ear.
- Enjoy the side stretch from the outer edge of your back foot pressing down all the way through your top fingertips stretching forward.
- Hold for five deep and easy breaths.
- To add a slight twist and chest opener, press your forearm into your front thigh to turn your chest toward the sky, and gently take the shoulder blades back and down.
- Inhale to lift out of the pose, exhale to take your top arm and step back into down dog.
- Switch sides and repeat.
To learn more about how yoga can improve your paddling and balance your body, check out Anna’s new book Yoga for Paddling. Order through the Mind Body Paddle webstore before December 31st, 2017 for a copy signed by Anna and receive free shipping! Also check out our other holiday specials on kayak and SUP instruction and Ayurveda Wellness Counseling packages. Save up to $100 while giving a meaningful gift this Holiday Season!