This Month on the Mat

Sacroiliac dysfunction can be traced to poor posture in everyday activities and to poor alignment in yoga asana practice, especially in seated twisting poses. This dysfunction can lead to pain and instability at the back of your pelvis.

This pain can feel like a nagging dull ache and sometimes the resulting instability can be debilitating – affecting your ability to move. Even walking can be a challenge.

To protect your SI joint, it is important to move your pelvis and sacrum as a unit.

For many years, I didn’t know any better and I taught that both sitting bones should be level and kept on the floor. I was taught that the pelvis should be held still while twisting. This is incorrect!

Leveling and anchoring your pelvis like this can lead to overstretching the ligaments that hold your sacrum steady between the bones of your pelvis. If you do this long enough and often enough, you will start to experience pain in your low back.

While every yoga posture needs a steady foundation, I invite you to rethink the foundation for seated twists. It is not your pelvis! Rather, the foundation is the thigh and/or foot that is rooting into the floor, which allows your sacrum to move with your pelvis in your twist.

If you anchor both sides of your pelvis to the floor, your sacrum will move with your spine and you will create torque in your sacroiliac joint. This torque will pull on the ligaments surrounding the joint. Ligaments are meant to stabilize joints and if you overstretch them, you compromise their ability to do their job. And, your SI joint is a joint of stability, NOT mobility.

When on your mat practicing any twisting pose, keep this in mind – your sacrum moves with your pelvis, not with your spine. Bring this alignment awareness into all of your seated twists as well as standing poses like Revolved Triangle.

Try this at home: Ardha Matsyendrasana

  1. Sit on the floor with your knees bent and feet on the floor in front of you.
  2. Slide your left heel to the outside of your right hip. As you do so, let your right sitting bone start to lift off the floor.
  3. Step your right foot outside of your left knee. Root your right foot to the earth. Your foundation is now your left thigh and your right foot.
  4. Place your right fingertips on the floor near the back of your right hip and your left hand on the top of your right knee.
  5. Inhale to lengthen upward through your spine. As you exhale, let your right hip and sitting bone move back and turn your upper body to the right.
  6. Release the pose on an inhalation and repeat to the other side.

Moving the Pelvis in Ardha Matsyendrasana from Nora Maskey on Vimeo.

Notice how it feels in your pelvis when you allow your sacroiliac joint to move with the pose rather than resisting the movement.

Until next time, move well and thrive!