Oftentimes I begin my classes by lying on the back. This supine position helps us get in contact with our bodies and relax the muscles.
By the time we connect with the breath, we become more aware of tensile stress in our bodies and learn how to let go. We store tension in various parts of the body, and it is hard for many of us to relax our pelvic area. Why is that, and what exactly is the pelvis?
In this article, learn more about your pelvis and how yoga can help create and maintain a healthy pelvis.
Where to Locate the Pelvis
Please stand up or sit upright and touch your lower back on both sides. This is your pelvis. It has skeletal features, muscles, and joints.
The bony pelvis consists of the hip bones (to both sides), the sacrum (at the base of your spine, just above your buttocks) and the coccyx (your tailbone at the end of the spinal column). This so-called pelvic girdle is located between abdomen and thighs.
The pelvis is the center of the body. It helps stabilize and transfer weight from upper to lower skeleton during motion and provides space for muscles, ligaments and joints to attach. The pelvis helps protect internal organs and allows us to stand balanced and upright.
The pelvis hosts reproductive organs too. Hence, the sacrum is shaped differently in men and women. In women, the bottom of the sacrum is less prominent compared to males. Women tend to have an oval shaped pelvic inlet making the pelvis wider and broader. While men have a heart shaped pelvic inlet, their sacrum is longer than that of women.
Pregnancy and childbirth can increase these differences. During pregnancy, the ligaments and tendons are more flexible in order to accommodate the baby. But regardless of gender, the male and female pelvis functions the same way.
How the Pelvis Works
The hip bones are also known as pelvic bones. They consist of three major parts: the ilium, the pubis, and the ischium.
Until puberty, these parts are connected by cartilage, and then fuse together. This fusion forms the acetabulum, which is a socket shaped like a cup. The head of the femur bone fits into the cup-like shape, forming a ball-and-socket joint.
When sitting cross-legged at the beginning or end of many yoga classes, we sit on a swelling of the ischium called the ischial tuberosity. The more flesh or storage facility we remove from below the sitting bones, the more balanced we sit.
When the Pelvis Hurts
Apart from menstrual or prenatal pelvic pains, the pelvic girdle can hurt. Joints, nerves, tightness, or soft tissue can cause discomfort.
The sacroiliac joint (also known as SI-joint) may cause discomfort in your lower back. It connects the sacrum and the ilium on both sides of your spinal column. This joint does not allow for a wide range of motion, instead it supports the weight of the upper body and moves very slightly. Hence, too much or too little movement may either cause instability or stiffness in the joint.
Weakness of the Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a collection of muscles that help us control urinary and bowel movements and stabilize connecting joints. The area looks more like a sling than a literal floor, and holds our organs in the pelvis.
It’s easy to feel your pelvic floor. Just try to stop the flow of urine when next you go to the toilet. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
Like all muscles, the pelvic floor needs to be exercised in order to stay strong. As we get older, the pelvic floor muscles tend to get weaker. Pregnancy weakens the pelvic floor too, and women focus on strengthening these muscles especially after giving birth.
Do you want to give it a try? Let’s strengthen your pelvic floor.
Sit in a comfortable position and breathe normally. Try to relax your body as best as you can. Now squeeze the pelvic floor muscles 10 to 15 times in a row. This simple exercise helps strengthen this set of muscles. The stronger the pelvic floor gets the longer you can try to hold each squeeze. You may add more squeezes as you go along, making sure to pause between every set.
Your Unique Pelvic Alignment
Did you know that the pelvis rests differently in people? Depending on your unique build, your pelvis may be in a neutral, posterior, or anterior position. But habitual misalignment may cause challenges in the long run.
If the pelvis is properly aligned in a neutral position, the hips and spine can function optimally. However, if the pelvis is out of alignment, this can cause pain in other areas of the body, such as the hips or the lower back.
Imagine your pelvis as a bowl. If the pelvis is in neutral alignment, the bowl remains upright. If you tilt the pelvis posterior, the bowl is tilted down and back, your abdominal muscles and your gluteal muscles engaged. If you perform the opposite movement, the anterior pelvic tilt, your stomach may bulge and your lumbar spine is hyperextended, which means that your buttocks stick out. This is what we call a hollow back.
Keeping the pelvis in a neutral and stable position is beneficial for the alignment of your body. Click on the video below to understand how to unlearn misalignment of your pelvis.
Tension feeds pain and pain feeds tension. Let’s begin to release tension and pain and start to heal. Strengthening the muscles that are weak and stretching the ones that are tight may help condition our bodies.
3 Yoga Postures For Your Pelvis
If you want to strengthen your pelvis, yoga can help! The complex nature of this body part requires us to see the body as an interconnected system: one part affects another! Hip, back, and abdominal muscles are closely interrelated with pelvic movement. Yoga is a powerful tool to help strengthen your pelvis. Try the following yoga poses to heal and strengthen these critical parts of the body in a safe, healthy way.
Pose #1 and #2: Cat-Cow Pose
Cat and cow pose are two separate poses that are often linked together. This dynamic posture invigorates the breath, helps increase the flexibility of the spine, and stretches and strengthens the muscles of the hips, back, abdomen, chest, and lungs.
- Begin in tabletop position on all fours with the wrists stacked underneath the shoulders and the knees stacked under the hips. For sensitive knees, fold your mat in half or place a blanket under the knees to get extra padding.
- As you inhale, drop the belly as you lift the tailbone and open through the chest to come into cow pose. Actively press through the tops of the feet and through each finger firmly and evenly. Release your shoulders away from your ears and allow the front of the torso to release toward the floor.
- As you exhale, drop the tailbone, round through the spine, and tuck the chin to the chest and pull the belly-button towards the spine. Try to initiate the movement from the tailbone to create an easy, fluid motion. Keep your body weight evenly distributed between the hands and knees.
Pose #3: Belly Twist (one-leg variation)
The one-leg variation of the belly twist is a great way to stimulate the spine, stretch your external hip rotators and SI joint, and release tensile stress.
Begin with your back on the floor. Settle in and take a few deep breaths. Then bend your left knee toward the chest and place your hands below the knee cap. On an exhale, pull the knee closer and carefully twist over to the right. Let the left knee slowly touch the ground or guide it with your hand towards the ground. Please stay within the pain-free zone and only go as far as you comfortably can. If your knee does not touch the ground effortlessly, simply use a pillow under the thigh. Keep the right leg straight and spread your arms out. Open them to a “T” position, face the ceiling, and stay in the twist for 10 breaths. Then repeat on the other side.
Want more? Then join me for a simple yoga exercise for healthy pelvis alignment and pelvic dysfunction.
The pelvis is the center of the body. It helps stabilize the body and allows us to stand balanced and upright. But habitual misalignment may cause challenges in the long run. Yoga is a great tool to help unlearn unhealthy habits and realign the pelvis.
If you are in pain, the best therapy for your pelvis is to decompress. Gentle stretches and breathing techniques may help you relax and decompress the shoulders.
Are you searching for pelvic exercises that are simple and effective? Wouldn’t you want to increase your energy level and reduce the pain?
I do personalized healthy yoga. Let me help you with a healthy yoga sequence customized to you! Click here for your online quiz. What do you have to lose except your pain?
Info about Me
I’m Chi. I’ve always been passionate about healing and empowerment.
I work as a catalyst for personal transformation. I help you explore the best version of yourself, and yoga is a fantastic tool to accomplish that goal. I am a certified yoga therapist and a classically trained jazz vocalist, and I hold a Ph.D. in Communications. I look forward to practicing with you!
Crumbie, Lorenzo. The Sacrum. http://teachmeanatomy.info/pelvis/bones/sacrum/. [Accessed February 2018]
Miller, John. Sacroiliac Joint Pain. https://physioworks.com.au/injuries-conditions-1/sacroiliac-joint-pain. [Accessed February 2018]