Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

I noticed a man a few days ago wearing a t-shirt with a picture of an archer on it.

I was astonished by the posture of the archer. His pelvis was pushed way forward as he stood aiming, bow and arrow in hand. His ribcage was drawn backward.

The posture struck me because it’s an exaggeration of probably the most common posture I see among my students, and people in general.

I wrote a bit about some of this at http://experienceyoga.blogspot.com/2005/04/kyphosis-and-bending-backwards.html

I was so interested in this extreme variation of a common postural misalignment, that I did a Google image search on “archery” and found a bunch of pictures showing the same thing: hips thrust forward, torso drawn back, and chest collapsed.

archery Posted by Hello

When I look from the side at students in mountain pose (tadasana), it’s unusual to see someone whose legs are vertical. Most shift their pelvises (pelvii?) forward so that if you hung a plumb line from one of their hip bones, the weight at the bottom would hang over toes instead of the instep.

mountain pose, pelvis forward, low back compressed Posted by Hello

If you get up and try this right now you’ll notice that if you move your pelvis back over your heels, assuming you typically shift your hips forward, the compressed vertebrae feeling in your low back almost immediately goes away.

Here’s the simplest set of instructions to address this: Stand with legs straight. Look down. Move your hips back until you can see the skin on the fronts of your ankles. Then lift your head and look forward again, without reverting to the archer’s posture.

That’s all there is to it.

Most people feel their low backs ‘decompress’ when they get their hips back, legs vertical. But, just as frequently, they don’t like the feeling they have that they’re ‘doubled over’ with rear end sticking out.

A tail bone tuck and strong lift of the torso get rid of the look. But only a long period of getting accustomed to it makes this feel ‘normal.’ ‘Cause let’s face it, it’s not normal for you. Since it’s different, most people dismiss this posture suggestion. After all, don’t I already know how to stand? I’ve been doing it most of my life.

So don’t rush to reject this tip. Practice it a while before deciding it’s not for you.

Don’t just sit there. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., I think the folks at Earth Shoe have the best diagram ever showing how your whole posture improves when you move your hips back over your heels. Here it is:

alignment, hips back over heels Posted by Hello

Hi to all my new friends at Earth Shoes and Shoe Peddlers (Appleton, WI) whom I met this weekend at the Yoga Journal Conference. I've been studying their diagram in the shoe ads for years, but had never put a pair on. They feel great.

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved, Mo Yoga LLC.


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