Side-Lying Restorative Asana enhances the capacity for movement of the intercostal muscles on the sides of your body and your diaphragm. These muscles lift the ribs during inhalation and draw the ribs down during exhalation. When these muscles are tight, movement of the rib cage and respiration are limited. By releasing tension breathing is enhanced.
Lie over a stack of two or more single-fold blankets or bolster so your left waist is well-supported at the center. Neither your hips nor your shoulders should touch the floor. Make sure you are lying on your side, not rolled onto your front or back body. Stretch your legs in a scissored position, right leg over the left when on your left side.
When you are on your left side, you should feel a moderate sensation along the right side of your body. To add intensity, raise your arms overhead and let them rest on the floor or on a support. Let your head rest on your left arm. Balance the stretch of your arms by stretching your legs and rooting down through your feet.
Stay for 30 seconds to several minutes, gradually increasing the time. Take natural, slow breaths, feeling the breath in the right (top) side. Open to the movement of the breath, to the release, and to the pleasant feeling that can come from this asana. This will also provide a release for the muscles of your hip, thigh, and stimulate the function of your liver.
When you feel ready, bend your knees, place your palms on the floor, press down, and slowly sit up. Turn and lie on your right side and repeat. On the right side in addition to the tissue release, you will stimulate the functions of the stomach and spleen.
If you experience lower back discomfort, make sure you are not rolled toward your abdomen or back. Try moving the support, up, down, or lowering the support. If nothing relieves discomfort, skip the form for now.
Do not practice this asana if you are more than three months pregnant, have a hiatal hernia, or during menstruation.
Photo and Instructions from Relax & Renew, Judith Lasater, Ph.D., P.T.