The fifth of the 6 abdominal engagements is side bending, when the muscles on one side of the body - let's say the right, as pictured above - contract while the muscles on the left side relax and lengthen.
This is the most unnatural of the movements of the spine. We almost never do it in nature, and we don't have a lot of musculature or nervous system precedent for it. So it is easy to resort to full contraction of both sides or full relaxation in this position.
The most common mistake in this position is to try to "lengthen" the side that is being compressed (the right side in the above picture). Any attempt to lengthen this side will reduce its engagement and compression while contracting the other side that should be relaxing.
Reaching the arms overhead makes this position more difficult as it raises the center of gravity and essentially puts more weight on the spine as it bends. You can do this posture with your arms down or hands together in front of your chest and get the same benefit. Focus intently on engaging one side while relaxing the other.
This engagement encompasses only the Half Moon Sidebend, pictured above. Sadly there aren't other postures in the Ghosh lineage that side-bend.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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- The Oxygenation Myth
- The Art and Skill of Teaching