“. . . 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



Monday, March 10, 2014

Refining the Pelvis in Warrior I

Yoga often happens in millimeters. This means that relatively small adjustments can produce some of the most important openings and energetic shifts. In this blog post, I describe a cue to refine the pelvis in the asana, Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I), concluding with a brief discussion of the biomechanics of this adjustment.

Here’s the cue...

In Warrior I, press the back foot into the mat and attempt to drag it toward the midline (adduction). You will feel the pelvis turn forward to “square” with the front leg. Figures 1 and 2 illustrate this action, with its effect on the pelvis.


Figure 1: Press the foot into the mat and then attempt to drag it toward the midline. This engages the adductor magnus.

Here are the biomechanics of this cue...

In Warrior I, the back leg is in extension. The prime mover muscle for this action is the gluteus maximus. One of the synergists for extending the hip is the adductor magnus muscle. Attempting to drag the foot towards the midline engages this muscle in the pose. The foot remains constrained on the mat and does not actually move, however, the force of contracting the adductor magnus decreases the angle between the femur and the pelvis, as shown. The result is that the pelvis turns (instead of the foot moving). In addition, the hip extends more effectively. All of this produces a unique opening in the front of the pelvis that stretches the hip flexors, including the psoas muscle (figure 3).


Figure 2: This illustrates engaging the adductor magnus by attempting to drag the foot towards the midline. The mat constrains the foot, and the force of contraction turns the pelvis.


Figure 3: This illustrates the flexor muscles of the back hip stretching.

Use this adjustment after “setting” the feet. The technique for this is described in my previous blog post on connecting to your feet in yoga. Click here to read more. These cues can be combined with co-activation of the hip stabilizers for the front leg, as described previously for Warrior II (click here to read more). Finally, “ease into” your movements when working with cues such as this. Build muscular engagement gradually to turn the pelvis; then gradually release it as you come out of the pose.

For many more helpful cues on biomechanics and yoga, feel free to browse through "The Key Muscles and Key Poses of Yoga". Also, see the "Yoga Mat Companion" series, which gives you step-by-step guidelines for applying these cues to all categories of poses. Click here to learn more.


Namaste’

Ray and Chris (illustrator)


20 comments:

  1. Can be done with a chair if foot set/connection is primary?

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  2. I really like this cue for readjusting the pelvis. Attempting to drag the foot toward the midline is clearer than trying to rotate the pelvis

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  3. Thanks for yet another wonderful, helpful tip.

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  4. This is my all-time favorite site when learning about the bio-mechanics and physiology of yoga. Great post! Keep 'em coming!

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  5. I've been working on these specific cues with my massage clients for the last few weeks. Love it!

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  6. Thank you for sharing and being so clear and precise !!!! Blessings ! Namaste

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  7. First I try your suggestions on my own body and then (no surprise!) I'm able to teach them perfectly to my students. Thank you.

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  8. Thank you for another excellent post. I have missed seeing them in my inbox lately.

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  9. I like this cue instead of saying "square your hips". Thanx

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  10. Love this! Would like to see something similar about the shoulder joint. Thanks!

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  11. Thank you! Wonderful presentation.

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  12. GRACIAS INFINITAS POR COMPARTIR TU CONOCIMIENTO.
    NAMASTÉ.

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  13. Thank you for great explanation. I have SI joint problem on my right side and I hope to heal by yoga. Would you recommend any special pose for my problem?
    Your posts are very informative! Thanks!

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  14. I believe I read somewhere in your books or blogs to drag the heel away from the mid-line. It feels like this accomplishes the same thing ? Is this accurate ?.

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  15. Thank you for another informative article. You make Yoga anatomy an understandable and interesting subject.

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  16. Such a great article and as always very well illustrated. As a yoga teacher i have only to thank the authors and each and every post!

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