Finding release in the pelvis
As a continuation of last week’s challenge, Finding stability in our pelvis, in which we perceived subtle engagement in the area between the sacrum and hip joint, we are going to concentrate on releasing this same area. Balancing the internal dynamic between engagement and release is important to achieve our greatest flexibility, strength, and resiliency in our joints.
An exercise to release our pelvic joints.
You might be interested in repeating the exercise that was introduced last week, to bring your attention and awareness to the area between your sacrum and your femoral trochanter and hip joint.
Standing on both legs, relax your pelvic area entirely, though not so much you fall down! Imagine water or air flowing through your hip joints. Now, transfer your weight entirely to one leg, and allow the hip to pop out all the way to that side. Allow your free hip to sink toward the ground. Bending your free knee (since your leg will be longer than the space between your hip and the floor), allow your free hip to suspend there. The key is to not force it down, but to let it fall with its own weight. Feel its heaviness.
Now, using the same engagement that we created between our sacrum and hip socket in the previous week’s exercise, bring your standing hip back into alignment, imagining it drawing and sliding back into place. Let your free hip remain relaxed and heavy. You might bring your attention to the placement of weight on your standing foot. What happens as you bring your hip back into alignment?
Creating fluid movement from our sacrum, through our free hip, into our leg.
Making sure that your standing leg is softly engaged (try not to lock your knees) and leaving your free hip and leg relaxed and suspended, start to create movement back and forth with your sacrum and let your leg follow. Can you feel that the movement in your hip and leg originates with sacral movement?
If you perceive that you are still moving your legs with your leg and hip muscles, think about your hip and legs as water pouring out of a hole in the bottom of a bucket that is attached to the front of your sacrum. As the bucket tilts slightly forward, the stream of water flows, and might splash a bit, to the back; as the bucket tilts back, the stream of water flows to the front. Alternately, try imagining your legs as slinkies that are attached at your sacrum.
You can also do this exercise standing on a stair or a yoga block, letting your leg suspend over the edge, truly allowing your free leg and hip to relax with gravity and respond to the movement in your pelvis.
The challenge: bringing awareness of our dynamic pelvis to our habitual movements.
After you find the balance of engaging and releasing the area between your hip joint and sacrum, try drawing attention to how this can influence the way you walk and stand. Make changes of weight, and even changes of direction quickly, tuning into your pelvis’s ability to respond by engaging and relaxing when and where it needs to.
The important thing to keep in mind is that we never want to force engagement, or even relaxation, meaning we do not need to over-contract or over-extend our muscles. This happens frequently when we think too hard about something, compartmentalizing muscles and forgetting the whole system, or when we get nervous.
When dancing, when we feel off balance, many times we contract our muscles out of fear, trying to get our balance back, but it ends up having an opposite effect, making our bodies stiff and unresilient. By training our bodies to respond intuitively to motion and learning to relax into it, we can dynamically respond and resolve the movement in our bodies with less tension and greater connectivity to our body system, the ground, and our partner.