In this video blog, Occupational Therapist, Yoga Therapist and Bliss Baby Yoga guest presenter, Maria Kirsten, shares her top tips for supporting a healthy and stable sacro-iliac joint.
This is particularly relevant to those working to re-establish stability postnatally, and will be beneficial for most yoga practitioners and teachers.
Firstly, we need to understand that, despite some normal movement with mobility and childbirth, the sacro-iliac joint is predominantly a joint of stability. If our pelvic ring is stable on our legs, the foundation of the spine is in good condition.
Second, we need to understand that core strength is not just about contracting muscles. Core strength is about using the core muscles, the diaphragm, abdominal corset and pelvic floor, to appropriately pressurise the ‘water bag’ of our internal organs. This then provides us with the pelvic and spinal support we need (including a healthy and stable sacro-iliac joint).
The amount of pressure needed for this ‘water bag’ depends on the circumstance: if you are lifting a fridge you will maximise pressure and minimise breathing, but if you are living daily life, balance is needed between support and breath. Simple awareness and yogic practices can greatly support stability and the below exercises can make a huge difference if practiced a little, a lot..
Maria’s top tips for building core support for your sacro-iliac joint and spine:
- Lie down in supine rest posture and become aware of the curves of the spine
- Pelvic rock between anterior and posterior, and then find the balance where you have a neutral lumbar curve without popping up the front lower ribs or clenching the buttocks.
- Anchor the back lower ribs and drop the sit bones down, doing two slightly opposite movements to create the intro abdominal pressurisation.
- See if you can breathe down three dimensionally into the abdomen and pelvic floor without getting uptight in the neck and shoulders.
- If breathing is going well, try to load the stable pelvis by lifting one foot off the floor. Make sure the pelvis stays stable and you don’t hold your breath.
- Remember that the exercise is 80% mental preparation and 20% actual movement. You are training your brain more than your muscles.
- Even if you simply imagine the movement it will be better than lurching into it and using momentum.
- If you can lift one leg at a time, progress to lifting both up, one at a time.
- If that goes well, keep them both up and lower and lift from the up position.
- If you stop breathing, get grumpy, pop your front ribs up, totally flatten your low back into the floor or clench your bum crack, you are doing too much and need to rest and start again.
If you are passionate about nurturing women during pregnancy and postnatally, and offering holistic yoga classes with safe, appropriate and nourishing practices, you may be interested in our Bliss Baby Yoga Online Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training course. We also offer Online Extension Modules to enhance and further your learning in this area, covering topics including Perinatal Nutrition & Ayurveda, Prenatal & Postnatal Anatomy and Physiology and Pelvic Floor Anatomy and Physiology for Women’s Health.
Maria Kirsten, founder of Yoga for Grownups and co-host of the Live Like You Love Yourself Podcast, is an Occupational Therapist, Yoga Therapist, Yoga Teacher and Teacher Trainer. Maria specialises in Applied Anatomy & Physiology for yoga teachers, Yoga for Mental Health, and Yoga for Seniors and Older Grownups. Maria facilitates workshops and teacher training courses throughout Australia, internationally and online, and is driven by a passion to make yoga safe and accessible for everyone. Maria is a special guest presenter on our Bliss Baby Yoga Online Prenatal & Postnatal Yoga Teacher Training course, sharing safe postnatal yoga practices. You can also connect with Maria on instagram via @yogaforgrownups.
*Our dear friend and colleague Maria sadly passed away in April 2021. You can learn about Maria’s life and work, and her journey with cancer, via the episodes of the Live Like You Love Yourself podcast that she recorded with Chara Caruthers, and via her website (both linked above). She was an inspiration, and made the most of every moment she was given. She is greatly missed, but the legacy of her passion for yoga continues through all of the students and teachers she taught over many years, and all of the incredibly valuable resources she left for us all to continue to learn from – which was her wish. We are eternally grateful for Maria. She is forever in our hearts.
Further Reading related to this topic:
- Let’s Twist Again! Twisting safely during Pregnancy by Ana Davis
- How Yoga Can Support Postnatal Mental Health (Including Three Simple Practices) by Maria Kirsten
- To supine or not to supine, that is the question! by Ana Davis
- Safe Yoga for Placenta Previa by Nadine O’Mara
- Releasing the Psoas during Pregnancy by Ana Davis
- Healing the wound: How can we best support mothers after caesarian? by Nadine O’Mara