During my weeklong Yoga Tune Up® Teacher Training with Jill in Hamilton, Ontario this summer, I experienced an awakening of my obliques.  I think of it as my “aha, hello obliques!” moment.

I consider myself an active person.  I go to the gym regularly, I practice yoga and do quite a bit of pilates.  Pilates and its focus on the core has helped me keep my back safe in my other activities.  When I was a child, I fell on an icy path to school and herniated my L5 disc.  Ever since then, I have had a “testy” low back.  Recently, I was diagnosed with arthritis in my hips.  For me this manifests as piriformis syndrome in my left glute, and a feeling of shortening through my left waistline.

Because of all my pilates work, I thought my core was very strong.  So when we did the Yoga Tune Up® Sidewinder pose in class I was surprised how quickly I got tired.  I was also unable to do Side Navasana.  This really surprised me.  So, now I have added Sidewinder, Jithara Parivartanasana and Side Navasana to my regular workout routine to help balance the shortness in my left waist.  I bracket these obliques poses with Megaplank as a “before and after” test.  When I retest with megaplank –  boy! Can I feel where my obliques are now!  Yoga Tune Up® shows you where you have weaknesses and helps you “fix” them, which is one of its great strengths.

After working on my abdominals, I like to stretch with Yoga Tune Up® Boomerang against the wall.  Then I finish off with a nice ball massage of my glutes.  Although I still get pain in my left glute, I no longer get the feeling of intense shortening and cramping of my left waistline.  I am confident that continued work and self massage with the balls will keep melting the fascial fuzz and will eventually decrease my glute pain.

Here’s Side Navasana, and you can find it and more like it on the 10 Minute Quick Fix for Lower back video.

Learn more about YogaTuneup Teacher Training.

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Renee Dello

In her day job, Renee works as a Senior Analyst in Waste Diversion Planning for the City of Toronto and focuses on improving recycling in apartments and condos. She teaches yoga and pilates part time. Her love of yoga and anatomy has brought her to Yoga Tune Up (which she also incorporates into pilates classes). Yoga Tune Up® has refreshed her practice and renewed her enthusiasm for teaching. She loves lifelong learning especially on the topics of anatomy and physiology and has recently completed studies in natural nutrition to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist.

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Vivi Sørensen

I have lower back issues from an older injury and this totally makes sense, I will add strengthening my obliques to my self care of yoga tune up and see if tht will help. Thanks!

Jackie Wolff

Isn’t it something how those injuries from years ago manifest in our lives. I, too, was surprised by how challenging much of the abwork was for me in YTU L1 . I’m curious about your sequencing. Wouldn’t you want to roll out your low back before doing boomerang? I also suffer from low back issues and really need to prime my low back fascia for lateral flexing.

Denitsa Lilova

How amazing it is to discover that lower back has such a secret connection to our obliques !
thank you for the insight!


Both Sidewinder and Side Boat are such great tools for developing awareness of the obliques. I have really enjoyed adding them to my training!

Jane Thibodeau

Renee, thanks so much for sharing. What a great way to use Sidewinder and Mega Plank. I too felt more fatigued than I expected the first time I tried Sidewinder. This post just reminded me why I should be incorporating it into a regular routine. Thank you!


Those are great poses, all neatly rolled up into one little sequence that I will certainly give a try and possibly add to my own routine!


I’m on my second day of the YTU level 1 training with Mimi Martel and Lisa Hebert and I got nicely acquainted with my obliques throughout the side winder today. I was also very surprised on how quickly I got tired!! What a great move. It’s so effective.


Interesting pose for building up the obliques.

Ananda Tinio

Thank you for this post, as I’ve been having similar aha moments with the obliques at YTU training. First with Jithara parivartanasana, my back muscles were so slack because of oblique underuse and neglect and today with the bicycle warm up. If ever there was confusion though, I now know where my obliques are and how to properly engage them.


Thank you for your post Renee!

I’ve found it immensely beneficial to release my lower back by rolling out my transverse abdominus/rectus abdominus/internal obligques/psoas by placing a ball just medial to my ASIS on either side (releasing one side at a time). It’s something I picked up while running, but the release on the anterior side of my body definitely opened up my lower back as well.

jackie leduc

This blog and video has been helpful in the development of my routine for low back pain relief , mobilization and strengthening. Thanks

Cailyn Edwards

Blind spots! They get all of us! I had a very similar revelation with my core. I have been an avid paddler for many years now so I can confidently say I have some super strong obliques but can’t do a straight sit up to save my life. My rectus abdominis are waaay underdeveloped! We have to move away from what we are good at and towards what our body needs!

Bev Hotchkiss

OMG….I want to do that routine. I feel like most of us suffer or have suffered from lower back pain in our lives. I have client right now who can’t even tie his shoes because of the pain he feels in his lower back.

I love sidewinder but I will have to give Jithara Parivartanasana and Side Navasana a go. Just learned mega plank today in my Level 1 training. I don’t think I’ll ever teach again without testing and retesting.

Thanks for the article!


Thank you for your post. After I took level 1 YTU, I couldn’t believe how week I really was. I was practicing yoga on a regular basis but didn’t realize how incorrect my posture was. Working on my core and YTU poses has helped me practice safely and build more strength.


Oh my gosh Jithara Parivartanasana is the pose that highlights my blind spots and opened my eyes up to my QL. I too thought I was in overall good shape from working out in the gym, and teaching yoga and fitness classes; but, when I first started practicing Jithara Parivartanasana I could barely get more then one set in before my body would tire and that was with poor joint stacking too! Like you did, I included into my regular training and practice along with sidewinder (one of my fav exercises, its SO much fun) and Megaplank with Active Serratus… Read more »


woot woot for all the Canadian YTU teachers!
I really like this blog and the sequence that you shared at the end. I love this pose for lengthening my side-body as well.
It is a great pose to throw in at the beginning of a practice and again, going deeper, at the end.

Thanks again!

Steeve Monpremier

Last summer, I decided to take my health into my own hands. As I got stronger and healthier, I decided I was going to get back into the sports I grew up playing and loving. Boy, was that an awakening moment. Despite my outward physical strength and my “time spent” at the gym, I was shocked to realize how quickly I got fatigued. Enter Yoga Tune Up and core work. Now I am in the process of coordinating all these wonderful core muscles (QL, Obliques, Spinalis, etc) with the same diligence that I work on my jumpshot. Once they work… Read more »


Have you done Hip Circles with arms? that really works just like this move … the balls though – oh the balls work magic!

Frances Rothenberg

Renee, I too, thought I had a strong abdominal core but I realize that after taking the Yoga Tune Up Training that I have many “blind spots”( specifically, the obliques). I found sidewinder pose to be very challenging and I am looking forward to strengthening the oblique muscles by incorporating this pose more into my practice. How does Jill smile while she lifts her legs and activates her obliques?!

Alison Lloyd-Nijjar

These three poses are some of my favourites! Since working with Jill’s poses, i have developed a love affair with my side torso muscles, as well as my abductors. Doing side body work has dramatically helped me with core stability and overall balance in all types of yoga poses, especially inversions.


Obliques are a really grey area for many people, teachers of movement and students alike. I’ve been thinking that I worked my obliques pretty well, until Yoga Tune Up this week. Discovering lots of new sensations in my waistline right now.

MaryBeth Frosco

Hi Renee!! I just completed the YTU L1 with Jill at Kriplau in April. I have always done alot of “core work”, but it wasn’t until the day we did jithara parivartonsana L2 and L3, that my aha moment came as awareness of my obliques surged. But not only that, I also had an eye popping moment of understanding in feeling the action of my obliques with my back muscles, especially the QL. I so wanted to use my anterior abs/hip flexors to do this work for me….but when I called upon my obliques and QL…WOW! My legs were not… Read more »

Renee holden

Renee, I’m presently at Kripalu with Jill taking her Yoga Tune Up level 1, we did sidewinder pose in class today! What a wonderful way to experience your obliques! I too found an amazing core immersion with this technique , fatiguing , yet exciting to find a new way to use these stabilizing muscles!
I wish I knew in 2011 there was a course in Hamilton! 🙂


Sidewinder is a great pose to start with if side Navasana seems too daunting.. What a great way to get get deep into lateral flexiion and extension and to get into the abdominal and the deep back muscles, without ever doing a single crunch! I can’t wait to teach it to my students, soon they will learn to love abdominal workouts like I am learning to love them too!


I used to have such a strong “core”, but not so much in more recent years. And though I don’t experience low back pain, I know I will really benefit from this exercise and awakening my obliques….


I happened to find YOGA TUNE up while searching for more holistic ways to relieve my back pains. Learning to use the YT Balls to massage all the tensed up fascia in my gluteus, around the trochanter, psis, sacrum and iliac crest has sure made me a very happy camper.

Claire Miller Murphy

I agree! I have professional dance training, and am a pilates and yoga instructor. I have a disk herniation, and piriformis syndrome, also had It band issues as well. I was shocked at how confused my body was when I attempted the revolved abdominal variations and how difficult I first found sidewinder and double bicylce. However, since I’ve been teaching the YTU massage ball work, teaching core activation through a more complete abdominal thoracic breath and practicing sidewinder, double bicycle and revolved abdominal variations correctly, I feel much more balanced, strong and have less disky stuff going on. T he… Read more »


I’ve used Jill’s DVDs and can do this pose on one side very well and very poorly on the other. I found that if I follow this pose with a good ball roll out of my glutes (on my ‘bad side), and then repeat this pose, I can actually do better.


I have been dealing with the same issues, herniated L5 disc 6 years ago, I am a pilates and group fitness instructor. I like the yoga tune up poses for oblique strengthening and found the sidewinder particularly humbling.

Anh Chi

hi renee,

thanks for this article and for reminding me of how much i love side-winder and jp!! i’m nursing some angry fascia right now but am inspired to incorporate these strenghtening moves asap.


Renee, I did sidewinder pose during training with Jill today, and I was so surprised at how difficult it was to isolate movement in my obliques in this pose. At first the movement felt really foreign, but after a few rounds I started to feel so much freedom in my ability to laterally flex, moving side to side from my obliques. I love the creative ways Yoga Tune Up gets into each part of the body and makes you feel it in a heightened way. I am so excited to have found YTU – it is already revolutionizing my practice… Read more »

Lisa Salvucci

I also thought I had a strong core until the Level one training and realized I had a tough time with sidewinder and side boat, so something was missing! My posture is better and these core exercises have even helped with the low back pain I sometimes get due to scoliosis.

Vrinda Eapen

After practising lots of side winder yesterday and today… I thought of you. Can’t wait to try your class, I hear it was fantastic! Anyway, I am really enjoying my obliques here in Boston and my core is thanking me for it. Please write us another blog when you have time. I really enjoy yours!

Heidi Knapp

I can really relate to this as I am finding out more and more what I already knew, I am out of touch with my core! But as the wash board appeal of the rectus abdominis takes over society I too fell in love with only this area, neglecting the whole core especially the obliques. In sidewider my mind says this is a simply movement how can it be doing anything, my body says otherwise. I will have to try these other options as well. I like your pose sequence, I often to plank as my tester pose too.

Vrinda Liza Eapen

Yes Renee, what a great blog. Those obliques really shine through in the poses you have mentioned. I am off to practice them as part of my morning routine. They should help with bellydancing.


This is a great oblique strengthening technique! How many times a week should it be done and with a regular workout or after yoga? I would also like to know what megaplank is… I have lower back pain, and i don’t know if this is correct, but I will use a heating pad. Thank you!!!


Extremly helpful! I too find myself suffering from lower back pain both from everyday sitting, bad posture as well as old injuries. Cannot wait to try your Boomerang this evening hopefully I can work towards strengthening the obliques with this routine. Thank you!

Marie Mbouni

This video was very helpful in really isolating the muscles and giving a good breakdown.
I do have occasional back pain because I spend my days standing up, and sometimes I do catch myself slouching towards the end of the day….these exercises will really help me strengthen my core and suppor my back! Thank you YTU!


I love core workouts and can’t wait to try this one to strengthen my obliques!


Definitely going to give this side Navasana a try myself. Wondering now what “MegaPlank” is?


Never been a big fan of ab. work as I seem to have a weak core. Actually dread it when a class is started with abs. I do realize I need more work in this area and this side boat seems like a great way to strengthen the core without having to do the “normal crunches” some teachers ask you to do. Can’t wait to try it

Stephanie McMorris

This video simplisticly isolated obliques. I’ve taken anatomy classes before-disecting cat, even viewing cadavor…she made it so easy to isolate…you feel it on your own body & you’ll never forget it! Thank you!

Dolores Little

As someone with a very week core, I’ll have to give this oblique workout a try.