In many ways the yoga poses that we do in class often imitate what we do in our daily life. Our spines were designed primarily to flex (forward bend) but they also allow us to bend backwards and sideways.
Think about what you do most throughout the day. Is it leaning or just reaching forward with your hands on a computer keyboard, or hands on a steering wheel? What about preparing food and drink? We may twist and bend to reach something behind us but how often do we consciously bend sideways?
Side bends are a great way of helping to even up the sides of our bodies. Do you always carry your bag on the same shoulder? Chances are one side is tighter than the other and we can help to even them out by spending some time stretching, opening and breathing into each side.
Lie on your back with the back of the ribs and your sacrum (bony part at the base of your spine) touching your mat/floor.
'Walk' your feet out to the right side, if you have extra stretch available you can cross your left ankle over your right. Once legs are in place, bend your upper body also to the right so you shift into a banana shape.
Make sure the backs of the ribs and sacrum stay touching the mat. You can also catch your left wrist with your right hand and draw it further to the right.
Take some time to focus on your body and your breath. Repeat as required. This may induce feelings of calm and awareness.