Yoga & The Pelvis

When you do yoga, should your pelvis be tucked (posterior), in neutral, or untucked (anterior)?

About 2 years ago I was told the pelvis should always be tucked in exercise/yoga. I took the advice seriously and focused on a tucked (posterior) position – resulting in a regression of skills despite dedicated practice. I also began to develop sciatica symptoms. My lower back was in pain, my hamstrings and quads were messed up, and my anxiety level kicked up a few notches.

Thankfully, my new yoga teacher noticed one day that I was straining to hold a pelvic tilt while doing a hamstring stretch with a strap. She said to allow my back to curve naturally – enough room that a lady bug could crawl under the space in my lower back.

Instantly, the pose was no longer strenuous or painful.

Just one month out from the shift of tucked to untucked/neutral pelvis, I have noticed: my lower back pain is gone, my hamstrings are working properly, my posture has improved, poses feel better, and my anxiety has lessened.

I asked the Eugene Yoga staff to chime in on their thoughts towards the pelvis being tucked, neutral, or untucked during yoga or Pilates movements:

“NO TUCKY BUTTS! This is a common misconception in Pilates. The only time a posterior tilt is recommended is during abdominal exercises in supine (when the exerciser is on the back — a very common position in Pilates) and the feet are off the floor (in an open kinetic chain) AND the person exercising does not have the abdominal strength to support the core position and the load of the legs (and this is the case for most people). The spine is healthiest in neutral, it’s most shock absorbing and natural state.” – Hilary

“Never tuck! In fact, it is good to really stick your butt out and lengthen your tailbone, hug the shinbones in, while supporting abdominals with the bandhas….just my 2 cents!” – Jean Nelson

“Yeah, I don’t get the whole tucking thing. I took a Bar Method class once, and it was all done with a tuck, which was hard for me to do, with my Pilates training and spine awareness. Tucking takes you out of your neutral spine, does not use your abdominals correctly, shortens your hip flexors, and can cause all kinds of problems.” – Lonnie

Here’s a challenge for your next yoga practice: try a few of your favorite poses and play around with moving your pelvis from neutral, to anterior, to posterior tilt to feel the difference in your own body.

by Calliope Scherrer

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