yoga community

A “HIP” Guide to Happier Movement: The SI Joint

Tying in the last 2 articles towards happier hip movement, we dive further down the proverbial yoga rabbit hole to look at pelvic rim imbalances and possible sacroiliac pain and how to progress experientially towards a sequence of adaptive yoga moves that have the potential to reset our SI joints to their natural pain free position. One of the most common structural breakdowns I work with is often a “misaligned’ pelvis and lower back pain.

Over the years more and more SI joint dysfunctions or “issues” seems to be “recurring,” especially in women. Whether this is due to the shape of our pelvis, the draw and trend of Western Yoga or the tendency toward long loose ligaments we don’t know, or perhaps even some other stress patterning effects- including an unbalanced or improper yoga practice, women seem more susceptible to hyper-mobility along with SI joint dysfunction. Even though there is a joy in flexibility, there needs to be a balance of tone, flexibility and stability if we are to be “pain free and live a life of symmetry.

There are a number of theories about the details of the pathology related to the SI Joint disorders , however in yoga over stretching is often a key indicator. Strong ligaments hold together the SI joint, the only way to move it out of place with yoga is to overstretch those ligaments and if we stretch more on one side then the other, or more anterior (hip flexors) the posterior (hamstrings) this can throw off pelvic stability. Our bodies move through recruited sequencing of muscles, and therefore, when one set or group of muscles is “too flexible” it throws off the sequencing of the entire mechanical chain.

The cardinal symptom of SI pain is an ache on or around the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS). The PSIS is the rear-most point of bone on the pelvis. However, it’s very important not to confuse what we are calling SI pain with other types of back pain, because, in most cases the “pain” referral point, is only where the energy gets blocked, but the structural breakdown that is causing the mis alignment is usually located some where else  in our mechanics and this takes time to determine.

Sacroiliac Joint Anatomy 101

The sacroiliac joint is where the sacrum bone and the ilium bone join one another, Your sacrum is located at the base of your spine and  is comprised of five vertebrae that have fused together during development to form a single bone roughly the size of your hand. Each half of the pelvis is composed of three bones, the ilium, the ischium and the pubic bone, that are fused together during development. The sacrum sits between the left and right ilium bones and bears the weight of the spine, kind of like a wedge.

The SI joints main function is to distribute this weight with equal balance to each hip and to each leg, and the energy  then makes it’s way down out through the feet to the earth via our muscles (to put it into simple terms).

There are many working parts to the hip and SI Joint, some of the ligaments that stabilize the SI joints cross directly over the line where the sacrum and ilium meet. Those on the front are called the ventral sacroiliac ligaments, and those on the back are the dorsal sacroiliac ligaments. Other strong ligaments (the interosseous ligaments) fill the space just above the SI joints, holding the ilium bones firmly against the sides of the upper sacrum.

Corrective Strategies & Tips:

First, identify the balance of flexibility in the hip joints by extending in all the anatomical movements of that joint. This should be done by a health professional who can assess bio mechanical breakdowns and asymmetries via a selective assessment.

Secondly, work towards establishing stability and tone in the pelvic floor and trunk, learn the ins and outs of balance and breath work for proper intra abdominal pressure, then establish if you require mobility or stability in the hip flexors,  the hamstrings, gluteal and lateral muscles of the hip.

Thirdly, modify your asana practice. As  a general framework for understanding which poses contribute to helping you relieve pain, these poses traditionally fall into 4 categories:

  • Careful with backbends: (Reclining Hero Pose) can help by directly pushing the top of the sacrum backward into place, as well stretching the anterior chain.
  • Modify your Twists and Rotational Poses: wrong twist can easily make matters worse. Gentle movement and transitioning from pose to pose by rotating one side of the sacrum backward and the other forward.
  • Try One Sided Poses: Reclined postures that focus on one side at a time, can create more symmetry by focusing the adjustment specifically on the joint that may be out of alignment, so that the ilium shifts in the right direction relative to the sacrum.
  • Practice Postures that Spread the Sacrum: By applying lateral pressure to the hips, may help by opening the top part of the SI joint space, as well as postures that spread the sacrum wide and relieve pressure to the lower lumbar spine.

Next week we Continue our series to Happier Hips with the pelvic rim and stability!

1SCHOOL 1DAY: BE A PART OF A DAY OF MOVEMENT “BEND 4 A CAUSE”

 The health and fitness community of Vancouver builds a school for the kids in Ethiopia. Want to be part of the movement? Join us for this special event on September 24th, 2011 at 1pm. This is a great opportunity to get Vancouver Yoga Teachers and their students involved in a one day event geared towards spreading the  our love of Yoga, health and movement AND support education in Ethiopia. 

BE A PART OF A DAY OF MOVEMENT :

Education for all should be a basic human right. In developing countries women and girls are around 70% of the beneficiaries, yet many children, especially girls are not given the opportunity to attend school. An educated child will help form the backbone of a healthy society and  help lift the community from the hands of poverty.

On September 24th at 1pm, participants will come together for an hour (or more) of motion to support education in Ethiopia. Participants will choose where they move from a list of our health and fitness affiliates or  –  create your own and become an affiliate. We will share the experience of moving together and on that evening, a Wrap Up Celebration will acknowledge all the great efforts of our community.

1SCHOOL 1DAY GOALS:

  • To raise $100,000 – the cost of One School in Ethiopia via Imagine1day
  • 5,000 Participants moving at the same time all across Greater Vancouver
  • To unify the Health and Fitness community towards a greater good

CALL TO ACTION FOR TEACHERS & STUDENTS:

I would like to propose a Yoga call to action, “Bend 4 A Cause.”  Many of us live all over Vancouver, we read each other posts, we enjoy each others classes, why not ban together and spend an hour (or more) teaching Yoga. The concept is to have as many Yoga teachers teaching outside or inside their chosen parks or places at exactly the same time, with the same purpose –  to raise awareness and much needed funds for education in Ethiopia. This is a movement for social investment.

As part of the health and wellness movement, our combined power will help bring to the forefront of our time, the importance of health and balance, while creating a social change movement  stemming from a unified front to support and empower our  leaders of tomorrow.

If you would like to be part of a whole day of movement, YogaFORM will be spearheading a Yoga Relay, an entire day of movement starting at 9am and will be looking for teachers to hop on board and create the day with me. How amazing would it be to do a variety of Yoga classes, around the city and  zen-co-mingle, get fit, all that the same time. If interested email [email protected] for more details.

To get involved and become an affiliate with 1School 1Day please contact [email protected]  and join a team of talented individuals who are committed to changing the world.

PET + POSE 2012 YOGA CALENDAR PHOTO CONTEST

Calling on all yogis!  Last month I posted a “Yoga Teaser” on a national event, linking up yoga communities for a global cause. Well, the details are in!

The Ladybird Animal Sanctuary (LAS), an animal rescue group made up of three Canadian singer/writers (Melissa McClelland, Janine Stoll and Lisa Winn) are on a mission, to bring much needed awareness and support to our furry friends.

The LAS sole purpose is to help as many dogs, cats and other domesticated animals in need, and in celebration of the joy of yoga and the beautiful relationship we share with our pets, the LAS is looking YOU to submit a Pet + Pose Photo for their 2012 calendar.

Here is the challenge:

Take your best pic of YOU and YOUR Pet (or your neighbors) – we want to see a beloved pet in the photo with you. The more creative the better, they are looking for anything fun, playful, beautiful, poignant, peaceful… you name it. Anything that expresses your wonderful relationship to your yoga practice & your best furry pal.

The LAS will choose 12 winners from across Canada who will be featured in our 2012 calendar, which will be sold in yoga studios throughout our country. The Grand Prize winner will get the cover photo and all winners will receive a gift pack with yoga and pet related goodies. Alongside your photo will also be a short description of you, your photographer and your animal. The best part of this whole project is that all proceeds from the sales of the calendar will go to helping animals in need.

To enter, please send the following to [email protected]

  • 1-3 photos, ideally 8×12”, 300 dpi (jpeg or pdf)
  • A quick description of yourself, your pose, your pet + your photographer friend (max. 200 words).

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: AUGUST 31, 2011.

So Get Your Best Downdog, Updog, Cat Pose or Pigeon Asana On!

Check out thier facebook page for more details and connect with the Song Birds behind this great cause!

Ladybird Animal Sanctuary Pet + POse Yoga Photo Challenge: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=218722811484946&ref=ts!

Namaste & Good Luck!

MOVIE REVIEW: FIERCE LIGHT, WHEN SPIRIT MEETS ACTION

What does Yoga and Activism have in common?   COMMUNITY!

Last night I watched the ground breaking documentary, “Fierce Light, When Spirit Meets Action” an in-depth look at the power that is released when our spirituality/belief and activism meet.

Sparked by the movements of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu,  Thich Nhat Hanh, and Mandela, by igniting a global movement of positive, compassionate action. It is a global journey of social change motivated by love, and the necessity to save our world through ethical action.

When asked by students what my message is, I say I am an Activist for Compassion, thus my message is to be an activist for compassion.

It is here, where we see a direct correlation between Yoga and Activism; both deeply rooted in community. The growing popularity of yoga at this time of global transformation and shift of inward search for our own humanity is not a coincidence.

If we look at the definition of a Yogi it is someone who strives to live in harmony with the earth, our environment and embracing the connection with another; which is at the heart of belonging.

A yogi seeks self-realization through the practice of action to become a more centered and rounded partner of society. By living in an other-centered way rather than a self-centered way, the yogi lives harmoniously with the earth, with all beings and things, and ultimately with oneself. This is the very way of life that is reflected in our leaders who have taken compassionate action towards a better world.

The practice of yoga on the mat can provide us with very practical skills to enable us to dismantle our present negative culture, a culture of dis-ease, based upon the exploitation of the earth and injustice of our fellow human and to act with non-violence to shift the paradigm towards social change.

So the next time you are on your mat, think about how you can transfer the loving, compassionate traits evoked from your practice and take them off the mat.  Imagine individuals and organizations connected by a shared commitment to compassionate, positive action….that’s most definitely Fierce Action!

Transform.  Inspire.  Enable

Be A (Yoga) Buddy

Last week in We’re All In This Together, I was writing about Michael Stone’s workshop and how he strongly believed in the crucial role of communities.

It really changes your experience to have a yoga buddy. It’s nice to go to class and see at least one familiar face, to share your practice and to talk about  it afterwards.

It can be a lovely relationship, full of kind gestures like saving a mat, and preparing some props, but also it can mean sending a quick text if one of you doesn’t come to class as usual. A yoga buddy can be the one who gets you out of bed if you have the winter blues: and that’s priceless.

[source: www.ehow.com]

Also, there are lots of things you tell your yoga buddy that you might not share with other important people in your life as yoga is such a safe environment for many of us.

Getting to know your fellow yogis seems to be easier said than done for a newcomer, and as yogis, we prefer our carrots and our relationships to be organic. Often the most difficult step is the first one. So here are a few suggestions to start engaging with fellow yogis:

  • drink water and tea: the water cooler and the tea room are the bars of yoga. They are an easy opportunity for socialising.
  • changing room: not all changing rooms lend themselves to conversations but some are quite friendly.
  • friendly accessories: I’ve got a few pair of cute socks from Europe and I get a lot of nice remarks on them. So socks can be an ice breaker!
  • props: ask your neighbour if they need bring an extra prop.
  • partner yoga: why not choose practices that involve more partner work such as acroyoga.
  • teacher training, workshops, retreats: spending time with a group of yogis will definitely create affinities.
  • blogs: read other yogis’ blogs or connect with them on social networks, you can end up meeting in real life!
  • smile: it’s always a good thing!
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