Yoga on your side....in yoga practice we often work with lateral bends and side stretches but it was the bananasana (banana pose) that drew my attention to the greater value of this part of the anatomy.
Claimed by Chinese medicine and yin yoga to be the asanas that increase vitality and toning of the kidneys "sideline" asanas are an important connection with other parts of our anatomy that can make them even more valuable to our health and wellbeing and skeletal stability.
The muscle group we more particularly engage with when we laterally bend is the Quadratus Lumborum. This muscle attaches to the iliac crest or pelvic hip bone and runs up to the lowest 12th rib whilst also attaching to the lumbar vertebrae. Consequently, it makes a connection between the hip the lower spine and the rib cage on both sides.
They are muscles that are often referred to as a postural muscles in that they are responsible for stabilizing us when we are standing or sitting. They have what is known as "slow twitch fibres" which means they don't function in quick or explosive movement. Hence their postural title. They don't tire too easily but they can get tight!
They have an important connection to the core muscles, the glutes and the erector muscles in the spine so it is useful to keep all these toned to keep things in shape in the pelvic and focal area of the body.
Finally, it can be argued that the tightness we feel in some of our postural muscles (these also include hip flexors spinal muscles and calves) can benefit more from more gentle stretching and motion while at the same time keeping the workhorse muscles strong.