Dear Sweet Community,
Oh joyous rain! Yay for the rain it makes me so happy to know all of the living beings are getting the hydration they need. Being a living being is a huge responsibility. The more we know about our bodies, how they work and what they need, the more we can enjoy the amazing time we have on this planet. On Alignment Fridays I strive to really give you the tools to care for your body and do your own practice. I don't know about you, but I feel like the body is pretty amazing and learning about it helps me feel empowered.
So lets get right to it shall we?
Alignment Tip of The Week:
The past Two Fridays we talked about Nutation and Counter Nutation to the spine and we worked on one leg balancing.
The spine has a natural "S" curve to it. The low back arches slightly (or is lordotic) and the upper back ever so slightly rounds (or kyphotic). We should neither try to exaggerate the S curve nor eliminate it. When the pelvis tilts to make an arch in the low back, it is called nutation. You can find nutation of the spine by standing with your feet hip distance apart. Turn you feet in slightly and press on the big toe side of your legs. This will roll your quadriceps in shortening the psoas muscle and elongating the hamstring arching your tailbone to the sky. You will feel how this creates a back bend and leaves the top of the hamstrings vulnerable to a stretch.
When the pelvis drops and rounds counteracting the arch in the low back, this is called counter nutation. To find counter nutation, take your same stance standing only this time turn the feet out slightly so the quadriceps roll outwards shortening the hamstrings and lengthening the psoas muscle. You will feel weight in the low back.
Obviously nutation and counter nutation equalize each other. There are a few poses where it is important to use the alignment tips of both to find stability:
Take that same position standing but bring your feet parallel and hip distance apart. Place a block between your legs high up. Bring your hands to your hips and press down through the big toes so the quads roll in a bit. Fold into a forward bend and release your hands to your shins or the floor. Now lengthen your spine and press down through your pinkie toes. Notice how this engages the top of the hamstring so you can't overstretch them. Still pressing through the big toes so the quads roll in, lift the inner arches of your feet and feel the shins press out. This is an example of nutation and counter nutation at the same time.
The same is true with back bending. While we want some nutation back bending, we also want to press down through the pinkie toes and keep the feet parallel or even slightly turned in during bridge and wheel. This is to protect the low back. Using nutation and counter nutation also helps us in high lunge and well as one leg balancing.
Now try standing at the back of your mat with the block between your legs. Come to chair pose and with the knees bent start walking up the mat. This will remind you to use your inner legs and core as you transfer your weight. Once you reach the top of your mat remove the block and find chair pose, this time lift your right knee to your chest in chair. Plug down through the left big toe and pinkie toe at the same time, anchoring the ankle. Shift your chest parallel to the earth and extend the right leg back and the arms forward for warrior 3.
Often people will lean into the pinkie toe side of the standing foot here, fatiguing the gluteus muscles…ouch! To fix this square off the hips. Also, avoid over leaning into that pinkie side of the foot and therefore over exerting the hamstring. Try keeping the left knee softly bent so you don’t lock out and lean into the heel. Keep your spine neutral by energizing through the right heel and pulling the belly in avoiding over nutating or counter nutating.
Take this information about your own body and experiment with your s curve, try rocking your pelvis and loosening up the low back and try balancing in Warrior 3 to stabilize your back :)
Have a sweet day,
See you on the mat,