Hang Upside Down to Align Pelvis for Good Posture
Most Important Yet Most Ignored Part of the Body
The pelvis is a bit like a forward tipped basket containing many vital organs including your bowels and intestines. Tipped too far forward, the belly and butt areas stick out. It is therefore evident that the way you carry your pelvis affects your entire posture. Here we learn to observe and assess pelvic placement and offer subtle targeted exercises to realign the pelvis for optimum looks and function. Finally, you may like to hang upside down for the ultimate body posture stretch. But first, let us examine your posture.
Building a Perfect Posture
Think of a tower of building blocks whereby the central block is tilted. What would happen? All the blocks above the tilted one would fall down. Now imagine this miss-aligned block as a box with its front missing. When the box is tipped forwards, everything falls out. That is exactly what happens to the contents of your pelvis when it is tilted. The result is a protruding belly and butt as shown on the first picture below.
How Do YOU Hold Your Pelvis?
This article will teach you how to hold your pelvis in its correct anatomical position to "keep it all in" as it were. With more tone, coordination and mobility in the pelvic region, you can get stronger, taller, and look slimmer. The moves are easy to learn (watch the exercise videos) and many of them can be done almost unperceived anywhere at any time.
So how do you carry your pelvis? To find out, you need to observe your posture from all sides. You can use a window pane or a large mirror. Once you have found a way to see yourself as an outsider, we can proceed with the exercises.
Pelvic Alignment Exercise
1. Stand sideways to the mirror feet parallel, hip-width apart.
2. Do a Demi Plié i.e. bend the knees while keeping the heels on the floor.
3. Now push your pubic bone forward as if you were a little boy trying to pee further than his mates.
4. While keeping your pelvis in this tipped position, with the pubic bone pushed forward and the tail tucked in, now straighten the knees. You will feel a tightening of the butocks.
The result is a lengthening of the "Y" ligaments and hip flexors, the area just below the hip bone, (if you can find it :).
The "Y" Ligaments
The "Y" ligament and hip flexors link the pelvis to the upper leg. When these are too short, from sitting all day, they force you to carry the pelvis in the misaligned position shown in the first picture above. The good news is that you can almost passively lengthen the "Y" ligaments as shown on the next picture. You can do this standing or lying down for each leg.
Lengthening the Y Ligaments
Fold the knee completely and try to bring your foot closer towards your buttocks. You will feel the stretch at the front of the upper thigh as pain but if you slowly and deeply breathe into the action and relax, the pain will soon go away to make room for a great feeling of relief from stiffness and will help you re-align your pelvis.
For How Long?
Stay in the position for about 5 to 7 slow in and out breaths. With repeated daily practice, just once or twice a day for 30 to 60 seconds, the area will soon loosen up.To lengthen the ligaments even further, bring the knee further back behind the body. Lengthening the upper-thigh area makes it easier to proceed with the pelvic isolations shown in the next video.
Pelvic Isolations and Hip Rolls With Chi
Stand feet parallel, knees slightly bent to loosen the pelvis. There are two sets of pelvic isolation exercises:
- front to back, and
- side to side
Do each set eight times or more. In front of your full length mirror you can clearly see and feel the difference between all the positions. Then do an extra set without looking in the mirror. Are you able to return to the center, the neutral position? Now you are well aware of where your pelvis should be aligned permanently.
When you are good at doing these pelvic isolations, you may progress into combining the moves. To really loosen your pelvis with hip-rolls follow club dance instructor Chi in the above video.
And now, how do we gain even more mobility to align and tone the pelvic region? Watch me doing the "Bum Walks" in the next video ("bum" = English for "butt").
Bum Walks & Rocks - Walking on the Sitting Bones
Make it Fun
- Put some music on.
- Sit up straight on the floor with legs straight out in front of you. Make sure you can feel your sitting bones (two protrusions under your bum), don't hang back in the lower back.
- Gently rock from one sitting bone onto the other, keeping your back straight (8 to 16 times).
- Now "walk" forwards on your sitting bones (see video above), slowly at first, then faster.
- Walk backwards on your sitting bones to where you came from.
If your friend or spouse is around, ask them to join you and have a bum race. I promise you'll have a good laugh while re-aligning your pelvis in a non-sexual way for a change.
This slightly more advanced move shows you another way of lengthening the Y ligaments (the area in front of the hip where the leg is attached to the pelvis).
- Lying on your back with the knees pulled up,
- gradually raise the pelvis off the floor as high as possible while taking deep breaths. When you reach your utmost top limit and can no longer hold it,
- slowly and gradually bring the pelvis down to the floor again and rest.
You may repeat the sequence two or three times in one session. Done daily, the results will emerge in a couple of weeks.
Keep the chin down to lengthen the back of the neck. Is your neck uncomfortable when lying on the floor? Then place a support in the form of a couple of books, a rolled up towel, or small firm cushion under the back of the head. You should be able to lie down comfortably on the floor, with your chin held down and your face parallel to the ceiling as shown in the above picture.
Benefits of Pelvic Lifts:
- Loosens and strengthens the spine
- re-aligns the neck vertebrae
- Lengthens the Y ligaments and hip flexors
- Improves your sex life (!)
Recovery with Child Pose
Mind your Back
Always finish the Pelvic Lifts sequence with a counter move. A counter move is a position or movement in the opposite direction in relation to gravity, in this case to release tension in the lower back from the pelvic push-up. This may be achieved here by resting in the yoga child pose as shown above.
The next video is a further option to loosen the pelvis. It works by twisting the pelvis from side to side while keeping the joined knees together and gradually lifting them towards the chest and down again. Watch it, videos speak louder than words.
BumRoll by Juliette Kando
The above BumRoll exercise loosens the pelvis and makes you aware of its central, neutral position. In addition, it will roll away any superfluous fat around the hips, butt, and upper thighs and tone up your waistline. But we are not quite done yet...
The Cream on the Cake
And now for the most effective postural correction method: traction by hanging upside down on a Gravity Inversion Table.
Finding you Center of Gravity
The pelvis is the center of gravity of the skeleton. If your body was a pencil balancing horizontally on a finger, its point of balance (center of gravity) would be in the pelvis. This is clearly seen on a Gravity Inversion Table, a gentle traction device which allows the body to invert partly or fully upside down. In the next video, the body slowly tips back, rotating around its center of gravity (the pelvis). Watch the joy of passive, painless stretching out the entire skeleton to release all tension in the body.
Hanging Upside Down
Where to Get a Gravity Inversion Table to Hang Upside Down
I have been using my Teeter Gravity Inversion Table for many years. Hanging upside down helps you become aware of the importance of the pelvis as the centre of your body and has many additional benefits which are:
- a great sense of decompression,
- a feeling of being lighter
- straighter, and
- a lot more relaxed.
The angle of tilt during gravity inversion is controlled by subtle arm movements. The more you lift the arms, the more weight goes back and down. The further down you go, the stronger the release of tension through gentle traction in all the joints in the body. Complete gravity inversion takes all the weight off the body. It makes you feel lighter and taller, and can train your muscles to hold your body in a more elongated and upright way throughout the day. It also relieves compression from gravity, thereby preventing and curing a back ache, stiff neck and tight shoulders.
Tips for Walking
Often people are in such a hurry to get to their destination that they literally walk in front of themselves. The head "ahead" of the body and the pelvis tilted forward (a result of short hip ligaments).
When walking, the trunk of the body should remain straight above the top of the legs and not lean forward. When you walk, be aware that your pelvis, your center of gravity, leads and not your head. Keep the head above the spine and keep your chin down for a longer neck. You'll get there just as fast, if not faster, and won't tire out many back and neck muscles unnecessarily by leaning forward and having to lift your head up to see where you are going. To sum up, remember two directions when you walk:
- Pubic bone forward. The pelvis leads the walk, so tuck under, as if you were a little boy trying to wee further than his mates.
- Torso upwards. Think of "growing" while you walk, like someone is pulling you upwards by a high ponytail. All the muscles around the rib cage are engaged when you pull up and grow taller.
Apart from stopping you shrinking in old age, adopting this habit makes your gate look so much more relaxed and elegant. Try it!
I hope you now will be more aware of the importance of your pelvic alignment after readings "Hang Upside Down to Align Pelvis for Good Posture" and that you will try some of the corrective exercises. Explore the wonderful sensation of gravity inversion, and mind how you walk.
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© 2009 Juliette Kando FI Chor