Juliette Kando is a dancer, choreologist, author on fitness and health, and Fellow of the Benesh Institute at the Royal Academy of Dance.
Hip alignment is about the way a person holds and moves the pelvis, which also happens to be the center of gravity in the body. The pelvis is shaped a bit like a forward-tipped basket. It contains and provides support for many vital organs, including your bowels, intestines, bladder, and reproductive organs. The way you carry your pelvis affects your posture and general well-being. In this article, you will learn to observe and assess pelvic placement with subtle, targeted exercises to realign your pelvis for optimum looks and function. But first, watch the next video to see that the pelvis really is the center of gravity in the body.
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 in 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 windowpane 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 buttocks.
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 in 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 to 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 5–7 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 and 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 (8–16 times).
- Now "walk" forwards on your sitting bones (see video above), slowly at first, then faster.
- Walk backward 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 some support in the form of a couple of books, a rolled-up towel, or a 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 Your 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 that 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
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 pee 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 from 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 correct pelvic alignment after readings "Where Is the Centre of Gravity in the Body? Find Out With Gravity Inversion" and that you will try some of the corrective exercises, explore the wonderful sensation of gravity inversion, and mind how you walk.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: Will an inversion table cure sciatica?
Answer: Used for about 5 to 7 minutes daily has cured my sciatica. For maintenance I use it for between 5 and ten minutes once a week.
© 2009 Juliette Kando FI Chor
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on December 19, 2011:
Hello again Hi Coralie,
A fat stomach consist of 2 things:
1. internal bloating (waste residue)
2. fat over the muscle tissue.
The first one (internal bloating) can be gotten rid of by fasting and emptying one's bowels every day BEFORE eating anything. The second (fat tissue) can be eliminated with exercise.
See also my unconventional Hub on the subject:
Coralie on December 16, 2011:
I am a Remedial Massage Therapist and although I have spend the past year learning level one Physiotherapy, I am still confused as to how to hold my pelvis. I believe I am more prone to having a flat back (although I know I don't have one)... So lately I have been trying to create the lumbar curve more by putting my pelvis into a slight anterior tilt. I came across your page as I have a little role of stubborn fat below the umbilical region ... sometimes it is flat and other times it looks like I have a whole spare tyre ... It's always been there on and off though. I am fit and toned otherwise. My family have a tummy problem (past generations), so I am wondering if genentics are responsible. I would kill for a flat stomach but can never seem to get there. So I was led to you site while searching for answers :-)
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on December 16, 2011:
Tucking in your bottom should not affect your back at all as it is an isolated action. Having said that, people with hollow lower backs often also stick their bottoms out. So tucking in helps as a corrective move for an over-curvature in the lower spine. Also, a lot of my clients who first try tucking in often end up leaning back from above the waist, which should be avoided.
Stay tall, that's the main thing.
Coralie on December 15, 2011:
Does tucking in your bottom create a flatback??
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on November 07, 2011:
Absolutely Charmaine, just keep your pelvis in the right place by tucking under your bottom and no stomach will show. It's as simple as that! Plus... the exercise will tone up your buttocks at the same time so it's a real win win situation.
Charmaine on November 06, 2011:
Amazing that the shape of the body can so easily change just with proper alignment. But when I tried it, facing sideways to the mirror, it really worked, my stomach disappeared! Now it's just a question of keeping up the good habit until it becomes natural, am I right Sue?
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on June 11, 2011:
As you rightly say Temirah, being a nurse, better alignment does solve a lot of health issues. Elegance goes hand in hand with comfort too. It's so much easier to carry the body when it is well placed against the constant downward pulling force of gravity.
Temirah on June 11, 2011:
Another excellent hub - you're a great teacher and writer as your instructions are so clear. And great use of videos too. We could all do with better body alignment, it would solve a lot of health issues and make the world a more elegant place!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on March 02, 2011:
Can you feel the difference now, between sticking your bum out and keeping your pelvis "tucked under"? It's really a lot easier than you think once you make it a good habit.
You are welcome Birgit. keep up the good work.
BirgitTandon on March 01, 2011:
I tried some of the exercises and I can really feel them working. Thanks!
Gabriella on March 01, 2011:
I never realised that holding your pelvis correctly makes such a difference in the shape of your body. Amazing!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on February 07, 2011:
Barry Rutherford from Queensland Australia on February 05, 2011:
Voted up good information !
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on January 17, 2011:
Watch the new Juliette Kando videos I added recently.She gives easy playful, yet very effective exercises to get rid of a fat stomach or bum.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on April 30, 2010:
That is a good resolution Jayjay but even better is if you get used to carrying your pelvis correctly at all times, when you stand in the supermarket queue, when you walk to your car, when you stand in the lift, everywhere, anytime you can recondition your "norm" to the correct stance. Soon it will become second nature.
jayjay40 from Bristol England on April 30, 2010:
Great advice Sue, I'm bookmarking this hub to use some of the moves in my daily workout
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on April 25, 2010:
You're Welcome Alison. You know something funny? My friends across the mountain are called Alison and Graham and I was wondering whether you were them but your picture doesn't match. I'm gonna go look at your HubPage profile now. See you soon.
Alison Graham from UK on April 24, 2010:
Thanks for this, another great article - glad I found you on Redgage Sue!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on April 22, 2010:
The pelvis is indeed the centre of gravity. If your body was stiff like a pencil and balanced on your finger, the point of balance would be the pelvis. Have a look at my hub entitled "Hanging Upside Down" on a gravity invertor or backswing and you will understand what I'm on about.
SixPackExercises on April 22, 2010:
I've studied a lot of fitness and nutrition guides, articles, and what have you, but this is the first I've heard of pelvic-centric workouts. Great job and thanks for sharing.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on December 12, 2009:
Yes David, your pelvis is you core, your centre.
Thank you Mike, glad to be of some help in the maze that the fitness industry can be.
Mike Lickteig from Lawrence KS USA on December 12, 2009:
About 7 months ago I realized that at (now) 51 years of age, I was in the worst physical condition of my life, and started to work against that with some strength training, cardio exercise, and a little bit of gentle yoga and water aerobics. I have made gains but am not yet where I want to be. Your posts are informative and inspiring. Thanks.
David R Bradley from The Active Side of Infinity on December 05, 2009:
Great Hub Sue! The pelvis and the hips are critical for so many things in daily life. I lift Russian Kettlebells and one of the key statements we have in the Kettlebell world is: hips first!
Feel free to take a look at some of my hubs on kettlebells!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on December 03, 2009:
Thank you Magnoliazz. I enjoyed your hub about the credit card companies being such blood suckers.
magnoliazz from Wisconsin on November 13, 2009:
Another great hub!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on November 05, 2009:
Yes Elayne, be careful, start slowly if you haven't done the moves before. And you, Natural Medicine, thank you for reading my hub. Remember to always come back to the "neutral" position, straight and centred.
Natural Medicine from Midwest USA on November 05, 2009:
Excellent! I've been looking lately thru YouTube to learn how to hiproll. This is the best & easiest video to do that.
Elayne from Rocky Mountains on November 04, 2009:
Great stuff- I think I just pushed my hip too far though trying to follow the video. I guess I need to start slowly.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on October 25, 2009:
Yes, try them out they really work. Thanks for dropping by.
Rudra on October 25, 2009:
There are brilliant set of exercises. For a girl, getting rid of stomach fat is a top priority. Will be trying some of these.
Benny Faye Ashton Douglass from Gold Canyon, Arizona on October 05, 2009:
Thanks, and Thanks for this hub to get rid of belly. Thanks for sharing. creativeone59
BkCreative from Brooklyn, New York City on October 01, 2009:
Oh I like this. A lot! So I shall bookmark it - then try it, but first I must become your fan!
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on September 22, 2009:
Thank you mega1. Did you read the one about redesigning your workstation? It really makes a big difference.
mega1 on September 22, 2009:
Love this! I sit a lot and was looking for an exercise to get my back out of its doldrums. Thanks!
Appletreedeals from Salisbury, Maryland USA on September 21, 2009:
Sue your hub score will stay low until it gets traffic, that really counts more than composition, as long as composition isn't terrible of course, and yours isn't. Participate in the forums and members will see your hubs and you will see the hub score rise.
G A PHILLIPS on September 21, 2009:
thank you Sue.A very helpful page. i am going to try out your tips on pelvic alignment and see if i can improve my posture and also the weakness in my lumbar region.
Juliette Kando FI Chor (author) from Andalusia on September 21, 2009:
Thanks! So why is the score so low?