THE PELVIS

Most people can locate their own pelvis, but as a teacher, I always make sure to give a clear explanation of its significance, since, surprisingly, many educated adults don’t understand the importance of the pelvis and its location.

The word pelvis is from the Latin and means “basin.” This tells us a bit more about it already! Judith Hanson Lasater explains it beautifully in her book, Yogabody: “ . . . the pelvis is a basin to hold the organs of digestion, assimilation, elimination, and reproduction. The pelvis is also the pot out of which the spine grows; thus the position of the pelvis is critical for creating spinal alignment and health.”*

Think about what this means! The bony structure of the pelvis holds many organs and is also the base into which the spine sits. Therefore, keeping the pelvis aligned is vital to both your posture and your internal organ health!

Now, let’s talk about proper pelvic alignment. Most people tend to tilt the pelvis back, which compresses the internal organs and causes the head to move forward to balance this tilt. This is not proper alignment. Learning what the pelvis should feel like when it is properly angled is a good place to start when learning this important concept.

Lie on your back with your knees pulled into your chest. Observe how the pelvis is tilted so that you feel the weight on your waistline in the back, with the sacrum slightly lifted. Then, using your hands on your knees, move your knees forward slowly, away from your shoulders. Pay attention to how the pelvic angle changes and the sacrum gets more weight while the waistline gets less. Your pelvis has now tilted slightly forward. This is the correct position for your pelvis and we all need to recognize what it feels like! Allow your legs to feel really heavy in your hands, as if they would drop like dead weight, if you lifted your hands away from your knees. Your hands and fingers are now holding the weight of your legs, letting the hip flexors relax. Your belly should feel soft since the muscles are relaxed. Pull your knees slowly back into your chest, and continue to observe what angle the pelvis takes as it moves forward and back. Repeat this a few times.

Once you can recognize the correct angle in this floor position, the next step is to feel it when you are sitting and standing. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) either seated or standing, is a wonderful pose to use to work on pelvic alignment. Feeling inconsistencies between the right and left sides of the hips and pelvis and figuring out what you need to move to be more balanced is an ongoing process. Feeling how the spine sits at its base and observing curves or tensions in the back will also help you to know what proper alignment feels like. (For further details, please refer to my May 15th blog on Seated Tadasana.)

Posture is a vital contributor to our physical comfort! It can change from morning to night, from day to day, and especially as we age. Therefore we need to be ever vigilant in our awareness of pelvic alignment and how it affects our posture.

If you have any question or comments, feel free to email me at shsh@yogawithshoosh.com.

* Reprinted with permission from Yogabody: Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana by Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T. (Berkeley, CA: Rodmell Press, 2009, 93).

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