Senior yoga teacher Judith Lasater was deep into her yoga practice one day when she heard a loud popping sound. After she consulted with specialists who could not explain the dull pain in her lower back, her chiropractor finally suggested she had compromised her sacroiliac, or SI, joint. These joints are connected by ligaments to the sacrum and ilium — the top part of the pelvis. Instead of resigning herself to a lifetime of chronic pain, Lasater resolved to go back to the mat and discovered that by moving her pelvis in line with her spine in every pose she “cured” her injured sacroiliac. Yoga postures for the SI joints can be enjoyed if you pay mindful attention to aligning your spine and pelvis at all times.
Extended Side Angle Pose
In a standing position, spread your legs 4 feet apart. Turn the left foot out 90 degrees and the right foot in about 45 degrees. Slowly bend your left knee until your upper thigh is parallel with the floor. Check that your left knee is stacked above your left angle. Extend your torso to the left, bending sideways from your waist. Rest your left elbow on your left knee very lightly and extend your left forearm palm up. Lift your right arm above your head until you are one straight line from the tips of your right fingers, down through the right side of your torso ending at your right foot. Take five breaths and then switch sides.
Stand with your feet together. Slightly bend your knees and then cross your right upper thigh over your left upper thigh. Point your right foot toward the floor and then moving your right foot back, hook it behind your left calf. Raise your arms to shoulder height and then bend your elbows so that your forearms are perpendicular to the floor. Nestle your left elbow into the crook of your right elbow. Turn your left palm out and then grasp your right hand with your left. Keep your arms at shoulder height throughout the pose. Take five breaths in Eagle pose and then switch sides.
Position a folded up blanket under your shoulders and back as you lie on the floor arms by your side. Press down with your hands and then lift your legs toward the ceiling until they are perpendicular to the floor. Inhale deeply, and as you exhale slowly lower your legs, either pressed together or hip width apart, to the floor behind your head. Curl your toes under and then wiggle your arms until they are under your shoulders and clasp your hands together. If you can’t reach the floor with your feet, position yourself close to a wall and when you extend your legs back and over your head, let your feet rest on the wall instead of the floor. Take five breaths in Plow pose.
Stand with your feet together. Lift and then spread your toes to achieve maximum balance. Settle your spread toes back to the floor and lift your upper thigh muscles up and away from your knees. Tuck your tailbone under as you draw in your abs towards your spine. Pull your torso up and spread your shoulder blades while drawing them down your back. Perch your head squarely on your shoulders gazing forward. Let your arms hang by your sides, palms facing away from you. Inhale and sweep your arms up to the ceiling and touch your palms together. Gaze upward at your hands and breathe slowly and deeply for up to a minute.