Chest forward and tailbone toward the floor: it’s a posture often advised to women. But according to Gert van Leeuwen, this advice can have disastrous consequenses for your lower back. In part 5 of the anatomy section in Yoga Magazine, Gert explains why your lower back becomes unstable.
‘Pull in your tailbone’ or ‘pretend to zip up your pants’. You often hear these kind of instructions in yoga classes. The teacher then asks you to tilt your pelvis, so that your lower back is ‘lengthened’. This is well-intended, but it has far-reaching consequences for the lower vertebrae of your lower back that are hidden in your pelvis. They move when you tilt, and this is at the expense of your back’s natural curve. Many women also have a tendency to lift their chest, which destabilizes the lower back.
I already discussed the male version of this problem in the previous episode of this series: the posterior pelvic tilt. As a result of instability, you can overburden your lower back. This sometimes causes severe pains that radiate to your buttocks, groin, and to the front and side of your legs (the so-called discopathy in the vertebrae of L4 and L5). In addition, it is important that movement is passed on in the most optimal manner, which means that each vertebra in your back must be flexible enough to pass on your body weight to the vertebra underneath, to eventually reach the pelvis.
In Critical Alignment Yoga, we use the exercise with the roll to relax the lower back in order to regain flexibility and to return it into its original position, after which we use the Plank Pose to restore its strength and coordination.
Props like the roll help you to reach parts of your body that aren’t easy to get to, not by yourself and not in yoga postures. When you use the pressure of your body weight and gravity, and synchronize your breathing, to relax the muscles in your lower back, you can restore mobility in your vertebrae.
Are you interested in yoga and would you like to experience the benefits of yoga yourself? You can! Sign up for a trial class at Yoga Ommen and discover what yoga can do for you! The exercises are easy to learn and (with a bit of practice) can also be done at home.
Gert van Leeuwen is the founder of the Critical Alignment Yoga and Therapy Institute. Irene Vos was trained by this institute as a Critical Alignment Yoga teacher and a Critical Alignment Yoga therapist.