Pelvic Awareness Exercise I: Cat/Cow with a Sandbag

The last post was about the mechanics of the pelvis. This is the first in a series of exercises to bring you into deeper awareness of your pelvis and its mechanics.

Cat/Cow with a sand bag: Come onto a hands and knees position on your mat. Then sit back on your knees, hold a sand bag (or other soft lightly weighted object) on your low back with one hand and then tilt forward onto hands and knees again. You should be positioned with the weight of the sand bag primarily on your pelvis and lower back.

Look for neutral spine: neither flexing upward toward the ceiling nor drooping downward toward the floor. Without moving the pelvis, clearly engage your abdominals muscles to help support the weight of the sandbag.

Once you’ve found the support of your abdominal muscles you can begin to work through spinal flexion (cat) and extension (cow) in time with your breath. With your exhalation lift the sand bag up toward the ceiling by tilting your pelvis backward and arching the lower back upward. On the inhale, keeping your abdominal muscles engaged the whole time, come through neutral spine and gentle tilt the top of your pelvis toward the floor while lifting your head to look forward. Cycle through these two positions in time with your breath for a total of 10 to 20 cycles.

When you’ve finished this exploration come into child’s pose with the sand bag still resting on your low back. To come into child’s pose: bring your big toes to touching and your knees a little wider than hips distance apart. Sit back on your heals and rest your forehead on the floor. You arms may extend out over your head or rest alongside you.

As you continue moving into other yoga poses or even just walking around the house you'll have the ghost of the sandbag on your low back. Use this information to keep awareness there alive. You want to look for standing, sitting, working and living postures that support a graceful neutral spine position: a gentle tilt forward of the top of the pelvis such that the forward lumbar curve is alive, neither drooping toward your belly nor flattened toward your back.