In my last Blog, I talked about fibromyalgia (FM) since the month of May is focused on fibromyalgia education and awareness. I explained that yoga, with its individualized approach, can address many of the symptoms of FM by focusing on alignment, posture, balance, and relaxation techniques. I also noted that, along with certain poses, visualization and breathing awareness were valuable tools as well. In this Blog, I will go into further detail on how to do the Seated Mountain Pose and its benefits. Of course, it is not ONLY for FM, since we can all benefit from proper alignment.
This simple pose, the Seated Mountain Pose (Tadasana) works on posture, visualization and breath. By aligning the pelvis and therefore the spine, and focusing on breath and visualizing its flow up and down the spine, this basic pose accomplishes a lot! I find that so many yoga teachers and even physical therapists don’t start with this foundation, yet it is a critical element in spinal alignment and hip joint movement, both of which affect posture and overall movement. Misalignment in this area in turn contributes to general body pain, joint pain, and other FM symptoms.
To begin, sit on a chair towards the front edge of the seat, lengthening your spine by sitting tall, with your knees and feet about hip-width apart. Your knees should be lower than your hips. If they are not, sit higher by putting a folded blanket or pillow on the chair seat to make you sit higher. Rest your hands on your thighs, palms down, relaxed.
Let your shoulders drop down, away from your ears. Let your elbows feel heavy, and soften your abdomen. Bring your awareness to your sitting bones, which are the two bony structures at the base of your pelvis that you are sitting on. It is common to tilt the top of the pelvis back and roll onto the buttocks (which means you might be sitting behind those sitting bones instead of on them!) This forces the lower back, which normally curves inward, to curve outward. When this happens, it can feel as if there is a thread running from your navel through your body that is being pulled from the back. This tilts your pelvis back and is a common cause of lower back pain.
You can learn what it feels like to be in alignment by consciously being out of it. Tilt your pelvis back so you are on your buttocks, behind the sitting bones, and notice what happens to your posture. You slouch, your shoulders round forward, your chest contracts, your chin moves forward, and you compress the back of your neck. Now roll forward and try to feel the center of your sitting bones. Feel how the spine lengthens and seems lighter. Your chest opens, your chin moves back, and the back of your neck lengthens. Sitting in alignment takes less effort and reduces muscle tension in the hips and pelvis. You may experience a feeling of melting release in your abdomen. It can also make your back feel less tired.
Now, think about your breath. When you inhale, visualize the breath moving from the base of your spine up to the top of your head. On the exhalation, let your body release and relax, following the breath from the head, jaw and neck to the shoulders, abdomen, etc until you feel heaviness in your sitting bones. This visualization can be very calming and relaxing.
Aligning your pelvis and consciously relaxing with your breath can help to alleviate your back pain or general body aches. For those of you with FM, hopefully, this pose will help with some of your symptoms!
If you have any question or comments, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.