- Hi Bernie, I hope you have been well. I hope you don't mind a couple of questions. I don't know if you remember but I asked you about something you said in your book, that the pelvis should tilt forward in seated forward folds. I remember you answered me but I don't think I fully comprehended the answer so I was hoping you would repeat it. Is it actually unhealthy or dangerous for someone with tight hamstrings to sit with their pelvis tilted back? If so why?
Another question I had was about the meridians. You and Sarah both say that backbends stimulate the Kidney UB meridian, but it seems that the material Paul gave us says that Kidney UB is stimulated through forward folds stretching the hamstrings and spinal flexion. Is this a difference of opinion or am I just misunderstanding Paul's materials?
Thank you for any help you can give me with this. I greatly appreciate your insight and time!
1) I often recommend sitting flexion postures be done with the pelvis elevated slightly to allow a forward tilt to the pelvis for a couple of reasons. One - this allows gravity to be more effective at drawing people forward, especially stiffies who just can't seem to get past vertical. By sitting up on something, they area already tilted and gravity now, rather than their muscles, can create the desired flexion. Two - if people are tight in the hamstrings, the hamstrings will pull the bottom of the pelvis out and forward creating more flexion along the spine: think of it like this - if the pelvis can't flex, the spine must. However, for people who have discogenic problems or sciatica, sitting up on a cushion and/or tilting the pelvis may reduce the flexion in the spine that could contribute to their problem/pain. [For more on sciatica see the article I wrote a few months ago.]
2) Paul and Sarah are both right. The way to "work" any meridian is to stress it and that stress can come through either stretching or compressing the lines. Backbends will compress the Urinary Bladder and Kidney meridians while also compressing the actual kidney organs (which is why Mr Iyengar also recommends these poses to help kidney and adrenal function.) Paul is also right in that forward folds can stretch the same meridian lines. Think of a massage: you get stretched and compressed. In Thai Yoga Massage we use thumbs, palms, elbows and many other body parts to apply a compression (stress) to the "sen lines" (that's the Thai name for the meridians) and then we also stretch (stress) those areas.
I hope these answer your questions.