“. . . according to the Yoga Sutra (3.1), the term [Bandha] refers to the ‘binding’ of consciousness to a particular object or locus (desha), which is the very essence of concentration.”
Georg Feuerstein

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Refining the Pelvis in Twisting Standing Poses

Yoga poses are "kinetic keys" that unlock and open the mind/body connection. Precise and accurate renditions of the asanas are more effective for unlocking the doors to the yoga experience. For examle, in a previous blog post we illustrate how to draw the front knee back and the pelvis forward in Utthita Parsvakonasana by pressing the outside of the knee into the arm. This engages the abductor muscles of the hip and brings the pelvis, knee, and ankle into alignment while stabilizing the pose. It also aids to open the front of the body and is an example of using a constraint (the knee against the arm) to create freedom.

Just as the knee tends to drift inward in Utthita Parsvakonasana and  Warrior I and II, so the pelvis tends to drift away from the midline in Parivrtta Trikonasana. In this post we explore connecting the upper and lower extremities while simulaneously engaging the hip abductors to draw the pelvis into an alignment with the legs.

Here’s the Anatomy . . . 

The upper appedicular skeleton is composed of the shoulder girdle and arms. The lower appendicular skeleton comprises the pelvic girdle and legs. The axial skeleton is made up of the pelvic girdle, spine, ribcage, and skull. Consequently, connecting the upper and lower extremities (the hand to the foot or elbow to the knee) can be used to influence the position of the trunk.

Here’s the Cue . . .


Always warm up first to acclimate the stretch receptors within the muscles and lengthen the myofascial connective tissue. I use five Sun Salutations or Surya Namaskaras A, but you can also do several Dog Poses in succession. Then I practice some standing poses that have the pelvis facing forward—such as Trikonasana and Warrior II—followed by an asana that turns the pelvis, such as Warrior I. The psoas awakening series illustrates this concept. Warming up in this manner prepares the body for turning poses like Parivrtta Trikonasana. Get a feel for rotating the trunk by bringing the opposite hand to the knee or lower leg in an intermediate variation of the pose. This connects the upper and lower appendicular skeletons.

obliques in revolved triangle pose
Click image for larger view of the oblique abdominals.
Engage the abdominals to turn the torso. This involves activating the lower-side internal oblique and upper-side external oblique muscles. Flex the forward hip by contracting the front-leg psoas and its synergists. The cue I use for this is to gently draw the trunk towards the thigh and imagine lifting the leg towards the trunk. Co-activating the psoas and oblique abdominals flexes the hips and trunk and turns the body from the core. These muscles also work with the erector spinae and quadratus lumborum to stabilize the lumbar spine.

psoas and tensor fascia lata - revolved triangle
Click image for larger view of the psoas and tensor fascia lata.
With the core muscles engaging, the next step is to gently press the hand against the outer side of the foot, ankle, or knee by contracting the triceps and forearm muscles as shown. At the same time, I press the front foot into the mat and gently attempt to drag it towards the hand. This combination forms a lock between the upper and lower extremities. Because the foot is constrained to the mat, the force of engaging the abductor muscles is transmitted to the pelvis, drawing it towards the midline. Finally, I attempt to drag the back foot towards the midline. My foot won't move, but this cue engages the adductor muscles of the back leg, further drawing the pelvis towards the center of the body.

abductors and adductors - revolved triangle
Click image for larger view of engaging the abductors and adductors.
Always, in your particular case, consult your health care provider before practicing yoga or any other exercise program. Always practice yoga under the direct supervision of a qualified instructor. See full disclaimer here.

Thanks for stopping by. Check in next week when I show a finishing touch that I use for Dog Pose. Be sure to download one of our free interactive eBooks. Also, don’t forget to tell your friends about our blog and to visit us on Facebook for your free chakra poster (we ask that you pay shipping and handling :)).

Namasté,

Ray and Chris

5 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the very helpful information :-)

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  2. Many thanks, Serli--All the Best~Ray

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  3. I'm in India (Mysore)doing some AV yoga & every little bit yelps (that was a typo but I like it!).
    This site is fantastic, I've told many people.

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  4. Thanks Rod--have a great time in Mysore! Ray

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  5. Super! Thanks a lot for these great posts.

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