Alignment is Sexy

Awww yeah. You know what I'm talking about. Ooo, baby, when you align your spine you make me wanna...HA, just kidding. Keep it PG here people. PG-13, at least. 

 Four distinct spine curves! He's only sad because everyone keeps telling him to get straight.

Four distinct spine curves! He's only sad because everyone keeps telling him to get straight.

Bringing your spine into proper alignment means finding your natural curvature. That's right, the spine is not designed to be straight! I guess spines are just born that way. See what I did there? So, when people tell you to straighten your spine (whether it's your yoga teacher or your grandma) tell them to bug off! Actually don't, I'm scared of your grandma. She means well. Jokes aside, take a look at an actual human spine to see for yourself how it is just not, in any way, shape, or form, straight. And the more you try to make it straight, the more it's going to rebel. So let the spine be its fabulously curvy self and your life will be much easier. Trust me.

These curves are fabulous, but they also have a function that is vital to the health of your machine. Without its curves the spine can't adequately absorb the shock of your movements. And not just your high-impact movements like running or jumping, even twisting and bending forward aren't safe for your intervertebral discs without the curves in your spine in their natural alignment. Think of how many times each day you bend over to reach your bag or to pick up a rogue sock or to lift something heavy (Eek! come see me immediately) without thinking about your body. Chances are you round the spine to bend over, pulling the curves out and making it vulnerable to injury. Herniated disc, anyone? Bueller? 

The first thing I check for with my clients is the naturally lordotic curve in their lower back - is it still there or has it completely disappeared? Most people need a little help finding the curve in their lumbar spine again. From years of sitting in chairs, the pelvis has tucked under, tilting posteriorly, putting pressure on the sacrum and pulling the spine into a C-shape (but you know this already from reading my last blog post). With all this working against that poor lower back, it flattens under the pressure. And guess what? So do the gluts. 

That's right, folks. You want your booty back? Untuck your pelvis, get your lumbar curve back, start putting those big ol' muscles back there to good use, and BOOM. Baby got back. Curvy is sexy. Alignment is sexy.

Now some of you may have been trying to find your butt again as your read this post. Let's just do it together so that we can all experience the magic. Start by picturing your pelvis as a bucket of water - if you tilt it too far forward or backward, the water is going to splash out when you move. Want extra credit? Picture your ribcage as another bucket of water that is connected to your pelvis bucket via a rope (your spine). So when one bucket tilts, it pulls on the rope and causes the other bucket to tilt. It's allllllll connected. 

Let's stand up so we can experience this in our bodies. Try tucking your booty in like you never want to see it again. Bad booty. Notice that when your pelvis bucket tilts backward, your ribcage bucket tilts forward. In this position your spine (or rope) has been pulled into a C-shape, your sternum (breastbone) is caved-in and you look like a sad puppy. Not sexy. Now, try to solve the problem by going to far the other way: tilt your pelvis bucket too far forward and feel how your ribcage bucket tilts back. Sexy, maybe, but sexy like you're trying too hard. Like you're in middle school and your little punk friend told you that sticking out your assets is how you get boys to like you. Yikes.

Now, we shall find the balance, young Jedi. Bring your sternum down a bit. Lovely. Ease up on that anterior pelvic tilt. Stellar! You, my friend, have got some balanced buckets. Meowch.

 Left: Posteriorly tilted (tucked) pelvis with caved-in ribcage and a C-shaped spine.  Right: Anteriorly tilted pelvis, ribcage that is sheared forward, and a compressed lumbar spine. Center: Balance between the pelvis, ribcage, and spine. 

Left: Posteriorly tilted (tucked) pelvis with caved-in ribcage and a C-shaped spine.  Right: Anteriorly tilted pelvis, ribcage that is sheared forward, and a compressed lumbar spine. Center: Balance between the pelvis, ribcage, and spine. 

Check out these fine folks who visited the YogAlign studio to balance the old buckets. They got their sexy back.

BOOM.