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Debunking the Tucked Pelvis

Current exercise culture demands we avoid curvature of the spine by the systematic tucking of the pelvis. Find out the origins of this myth and encourage your students to engage in the full range of lower spine motion in their practice.

By Paul Grilley

To have a healthy spine, we must systematically move it through its full range of motion. This means sometimes we tuck the pelvis to flatten the spine, sometimes we tilt the pelvis to arch the spine, and sometimes we keep the spine neutral. This is the Taoist view of life, a constant alternation from one opposite to another. The contraction and expansion of the heart are opposites, but by alternating they are the Tao of circulation. The expansion and contraction of the lungs are opposites, but by alternating they are the Tao of breathing. Tucking and tilting the pelvis have opposite effects on the curve of the spine, but by alternating they are the Tao of posture.

Don't fight it
When practicing backbends such as the Cobra, don't try to tuck the pelvis, but let the spine arch. When practicing forward bends such as Paschimottanasana, don't try to tilt the pelvis, but let the spine round. These are normal movements for the lumbar spine, and to fight against them is to nullify the effects of the poses. Of course, overstretching an already injured spine could make it worse. But sooner or later, the goal of all physical rehabilitation is to regain the natural range of motion. Yoga practice helps us retain our full range of motion so we can easily alternate from a tucked pelvis with a straight spine to a tilted pelvis with an arched spine. Both these movements are necessary to maintain healthy posture.

Paul Grilley has been studying and teaching yoga since 1979. His special interest in anatomy. He teaches regular workshops on physical and energetic anatomy. Paul lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife Suzee.

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Reader Comments


I too agree with the other comments. As a dancer and dance teacher for many years and a current yoga teacher I can recall only one child hood dance teacher talking about tucking - back in the 1950's - an old russian teacher with a stick! Dance classes employ a very precisely structured warm up and in a good class, you are not asked to perform a movement or position for which you have not had adequate preparation - not so in many yoga classes - even from good teachers. Many dance injuries stem from performance passion - when adrenaline is flowing and accidents can occur - and from a grueling rehearsal and performance schedule - not from what they do in class and so is very different from the "practice" of yoga. So while it may be true that some dancers come to yoga to "heal" they are not healing from dance class but from the rigors of performing and the pressure that comes with that life style. I think a person can move between yoga and dance and be mindful of the differences as they enjoy each class.

Susan Holbrook

Ditto! I trained and was trained to the professional level in Classical Ballet. The only "dancers" who tucked their pelvis were wanna be dancers. Because one cannot move when one tucks the pelvis! Everything is strained and that is when injury occurs. Those people never dance. And it has never been taught in a viable ballet class in my 63 years of existence on earth.
Just as in Asana class where the copious number of young inexperienced teachers are zealously and ignorantly talking students into positions they probably will never be able to do, is why recently the media ignorantly represented a yoga practice as being damaging.
As Shankara advises, do not be ignorant, practice mindfulness and discrimination in all actions!


There were a lot of yoga classes in the seventies and not all the teachers had background in dance. Lot of of them were hipies who went to study in India or meditators who studied with various indian gurus in the US. Tucking of the pelvis was not a common practice at least in the yoga circles I studied in.

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