Love ya Curves
What is the right position for the spine in yoga and for everyday posture and other sporting activities. Read on to find more and above all explore the full range of spinal movement to determine what is right for your body.
I've been saying it for what feels like forever in class; but time to put it in writing with the hope that it help more people embody it... "STOP TUCKING YOUR TAIL INDESCRIMINANTLY!!" like a dog that has done a naughty....
Our spinal posture is unique and determined by a number of factors – our bony structure and muscle action, in response to things we do often, like sit, slump, play assymetrical sports.
We all have a spine that in the neck and low back curve concave to the back and in the middle back and sacrum are concave towards the front. There is much variation within the realm of normal and there are gender differences – woman tend to have deeper curves. When I was studying physio 20+ years ago, 'tail tucking' was instructed for folk whose pelvis was excessively tilted forward which pushed the lumbar curve into extreme extension. Over the years this infiltrated other sporting arenas, the yoga shala included and 'tuck your tail' has become a common statement during many classes. But how do you know whether you need to tuck and what is enough tuck, before your lumbar curve disappears. Teachers are you checking to see how many people actually need to tuck their tail?
In my extensive experience the legacy of the 'tail tuck' is over. We've been tucking for so long, a flattened lumbar curve feels normal. The unhelpful consequence to no lumbar curve is – a too straight spine,, posteriorly tilted pelvis' and no butt muscles! This sets us up for increased stress on the intevertebral discs, unhappy sacro-iliac joints and a whole range of hip tendonopathies.. and it actually feels bad. If you are a 'tail tucker' who has back pain, just stop it for one week and you may experience significant relief.
So no butts... look at what you are doing and teachers consider what you are instructing people to do.. help people find their natural spinal position, with balanced curves. Core stability muscles do not move the spine and are engaged for stability when the spine is in it's neutral. Infact all postural muscles function optimally when you are in your neutral spinal position. Students are often surprised to feel how arched their back is in it's neutral.