To supplement my classes for this week, I would like to look more deeply into the sacrum. This triangular segment of fused vertebra located at the base of the spine attaches the lumbar or low back to the pelvis and legs via the hip bones and other supporting musculature. Through its connections, the sacrum is ideally positioned to be a prime stabilizer for the body.
We have studied the sacrum for its ability to anchor the hips. Each connected to its own leg and foot, the hips tend to act independently, and, most often, asymmetrically. Between each hip and sacrum, there sits a slender connection – the sacral iliac joint – which takes the brunt of the movement between these bones. It is critical, therefore, that we identify any significant asymmetries and honor them to prevent stress and dysfunction.
Exploring the grounding quality of the sacrum can help create awareness for the pelvis and the entire body. As you lie on your back, you can better sense the weight of the sacrum against the floor and may even feel the discrepancies between the two sides of the body through the hip bones and their relationship to the floor. Often times, a hip that sits forward of the other will feel lighter and less rooted to the floor.
Try supine variations of standing poses like Vrksasana or Tree pose to get a better sense of your hip alignment and its range of motion. Then, strengthen the musculature that adheres to your sacrum and hips, namely your gluteus group and piriformis, through postures such as Salabasana (locust) or reverse tabletop. And finally, be sure to honor the stability the sacrum is built for by supporting it. In Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or Bridge pose, use a block to brace the sacral bone. Or, explore Viparita Karani, the ideal pose for grounding the base of the spine (if you locate the legs directly above the hips).
I love that the original word sacrum comes from the Greek translation of hieron osteon or “sacred bone.” This is because the Greeks believed that the sacrum was the home of the soul. Hieron can also mean temple and makes sense in that the sacrum is the back wall of the pelvic cavity which holds the organs that produce life – the ovaries and uterus. Another fun fact comes from the ancient Egyptians who believed that the sacrum was the last bone to deteriorate in a buried body.
Cherish the magical feeling of strength and unity that your sacrum was designed for developing!