When I’m teaching, I often describe the pelvis like a bowl or as my teacher in Thailand described it, an inverted bell. My understanding of the pelvis has changed dramatically since my journey into growing and birthing a baby. I had a deep respect for this fertile crescent to begin with, a fascination if you will from my previous lifetime in archaeology, forensics and osteology. This respect only grew with my recent life changes.
I focus a lot on the pelvis for several different reasons. I always begin with the physical as it seems to be easier to digest for the skeptics and atheists and these are the people who I want to inspire the most. I have an agenda of convincing them that there is something greater and the body represents not only your temple but a physical manifestation of spirit. For example, you can look carefully at how someone physically stands and have a window into how they are feeling in their heart.
The pelvis is this incredible structure that is designed with our bipedal movement, birthing process and weight-bearing in mind. It can also house all our things left unsaid, every fall out of tree, race we have run and it is the centre of our rooting to the earth and sexuality. Whenever I ask students what they would like to do in class 99% of the time people are like “hips” with core as a close second.
The pelvic floor or mula bandha is the best place to start. This is the engaging of the musculature of the pelvis that cuts off the flow of urine mid-flow or is what more of us know as a kegel exercise. Its is the strengthening of the perineum. The energetic engagement of this place in the body creates a seal for the life force or prana that we bring into the body through our inhalation. Learning to do this pulsation while practicing asana allows us to create a containment of this prana while also using these small muscles that provide us enormous stability and strength in a pose.
The concept of envisioning this part of the body as an inverted bell is extremely useful when you want to explore the clearing of this area. Many of us have tight hips for many different reasons, we feel much freer physically and emotionally when this area is more open and flowing more freely hence the majority of the populace that I encounter are determined to find relief here. It is in my humble opinion that because the hips are all about physical stability, any situations in life that are de-stabilizing create a tightening effect here. When we start to open the hips in practice not only do we feel freer but we also start to feel all those things related to this unstable feeling.
Yoga and my studies of Peruvian Shamanism have taught me a lot about holding space for myself and others. Holding space means to listen without interruption, to create a safe environment for something to be expressed, one without judgement or expectation. Whether you are in a pose that you find extremely trying or a situation in life that you find challenging. Rather than trying to ‘fix it’ or change what’s going on, experiment with the idea of feeling the experience and ultimately showing up for it.
So all this work and for what result? When I think about opening my pelvis and clearing out the bell, I start to envision the incredible resonance that becomes available when I can feel stable as well as free.