Movement Habits and their Effect on Yoga Practice

By Niki Vetten

There are three particular movement habits in asana practice that either cause or indicate problems with the hips: These will be covered in detail in separate posts, to keep posts shorter

1. Allowing the hip to push out to the side and not maintaining a level pelvis in the horizontal plane – lateral pelvic tilt 2. Hinging from the hips when folding forwards from a standing position or returning to an upright stance from a forward fold. 3. Arching the back and maintaining anterior pelvic tilt in your movements

It’s common for yoga-practitioners to develop weak Gluteal muscles from these habits because there are many muscles in the hip area that can be used to create the same movements and the result is overuse of some muscles and weakness of others. Weak Gluteal muscles cause instability of the Sacroiliac joint, because the muscle fibres of the Gluteus Maximus have attachments to the Sacroiliac ligaments down the length of the Sacrum. These muscles are further weakened and damaged through excessive stretching.

It’s important to remember that if specific movements and asanas are practiced with very little variation and no consideration is given to correcting habitual misalignments, muscle imbalances develop and quickly become painful. Sometimes professional treatment improves the pain but then the problems return because movement habits haven’t changed. The fastest way to resolve muscle-imbalance is with corrective exercises from someone who has assessed your movements and muscle strength but a long-term improvement depends on becoming aware of how you move and maintaining that awareness as you practice.

The process of reciprocal inhibition also creates weak hip muscles – please refer to Reciprocal Inhibition and Hips for an explanation of how hip muscles are weakened by particular asana sequences. ‘Yoga butt’ or Ischial Tendonitis is common in Ashtanga practice and is an example of reciprocal inhibition. An analysis of ‘yoga butt’ follows the posts on movement habits

Reading Sources: Kendall, Mc Creary, Provance, 1993, Muscles, Testing and Function De Franca, 1996, Pelvic Locomotor Dysfunction Ellenbecker, De Carlo, DeRosa, 2009, Effective Functional Progressions in Sport Rehabilitation

Author: Niki Vetten

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