Warrior I or Crescent Lunge?

It's interesting to watch the trends in the yoga world evolve with posture alignment. Certain postures or cues have become demonized while others have become glorified. As we all become more intelligent about anatomy, body diversity, and injury, I think that it is important that we don't get tunnel visioned by making things absolutely wrong or right. Every single body and experience is unique. As I see it, certain cues aren't necessarily wrong; rather, they just aren't always relevant. When my students or teachers are investigating whether something is "wrong" or "right" with yoga posture, I suggest that they ask the question, "what is it for?" Are you aiming to look a certain way in the pose? Or are you looking for the most functionally balanced posture? What is it that you are attempting to do? These questions will always help you with any investigation around alignment. 

Warrior I pose: back heel anchored down / asymmetrical pelvis 

Warrior I pose: back heel anchored down / asymmetrical pelvis 

Warrior I has the reputation of presenting some biomechanical issues because it can create asymmetry in the pelvis.  The forward leg encourages the pelvis to action forward while the back leg creates an anchoring back. This uneven leveraging force can land in the sacroiliac joints and/or lumbar spine if overdone.

In Warrior I it is crucial to allow freedom in foot placement and not to be adamant about squaring the hips forward.

Forcing the hips to square forward with an anchored back heel will exaggerate the torque pressure across the pelvic bones, specifically the sacroiliac joints.  As in most poses, it is best first to align the pelvis in a spacious position and then to adjust the foundation accordingly, rather than building the pose from the foundation up.

If someone has an existing sacroiliac injury or tendency toward this, it might be a good idea to avoid Warrior I altogether.  Simply do Crescent Lunge instead.

Figure_78 Sacroiliac joint.jpg

 

Crescent Lunge is a great substitute for Warrior I because it offers increased spaciousness in the pelvis and lumbar spine.  The unanchored back heel allows for more mobility in the back leg, pelvis, and spine.  Consequently, whether you suffer from sacroiliac pain or low back pain, Crescent Lunge is a good idea.

Keeping the back knee bent in Crescent allows for additional mobility of the pelvis while the spine is upright. Locking the back leg straight will lock the pelvis in place, typically in an anterior tilt. Remember that an anterior tilt of the pelvis can’t happen without extending or backbending the lumbar spine. With a locked back leg and anterior tilt of the pelvis, the range of lumbar backward bend is probably maxed out. It is good to avoid this in any pose.  In my upcoming book, Embodied Posture, in “The Anatomy of Backbending” chapter, I discuss this in detail. Bending the back knee releases the pelvis so the sacrum can be drawn down a bit, bringing the spine out of maximum extension and compression. This will be extremely helpful for minimizing low back discomfort. 

Crescent Lunge with lifted back heel, back knee bent and posteriorly tilted ,symmetrical pelvis

Crescent Lunge with lifted back heel, back knee bent and posteriorly tilted ,symmetrical pelvis

As you navigate your own practice, remember that all information is good information. Listen to what your teachers have to say, read the books and blogs, take it all in. Then TRUST that the most valuable information is that which you have filtered through your own experience.

Feel, listen, be curious. Embody your pose. Find your alignment from within. 

FOR YOGA TEACHERS! 

I AM LEADING A PROGRAM THIS FALL IN THAILAND FOR YOGA TEACHERS TO ADVANCE THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING OF: THE SPINE, THE TRUNK, YOGA & AUTONOMIC BALANCE. IT IS ONE OF THREE MODULES FOR OUR 500 HR. ADVANCED RYT CERTIFICATION. THESE MODULES CAN BE TAKEN IN ANY ORDER. EACH DAY YOU WILL TAKE A CLASS AIMED AT REFINING YOUR PERSONAL PHYSICAL PRACTICE AND DEEPENING YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF POSTURE VARIATION.  MINDFULNESS MEDITATION, BREATH PRACTICE, SELF-INQUIRY, AND JOURNALING WILL BE INCLUDED EACH DAY. EACH MODULE CONTAINS A SPECIFIC ANATOMICAL FOCUS IN WHICH WE WILL STUDY STRUCTURE, FUNCTION AND APPLICATIONS IN SEQUENCING. COMMON INJURIES AND THEIR IMPLICATIONS WITH YOGA WILL BE INCLUDED. THAILAND DATES: SEPTEMBER 22-OCTOBER 2 AND MORE INFORMATION

 

COME TO THAILAND TO BECOME A REGISTERED YOGA TEACHER WITH US! LEVEL 1 SEPTEMBER 22-OCTOBER 2 / LEVEL 2 OCTOBER 2-13

 

COME TO THAILAND FOR RETREAT OR CONTINUING EDUCATION HOURS / OCTOBER 2-13

 

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Stacy Dockins is the co-owner of Yoga Project Studios based in Fort Worth Texas. She and her husband Dave lead yoga trainings and retreats in Texas, Thailand, Bali, and Costa Rica. She is mama to Jake, Kera, Luke, and Buster. She has been a yoga and mindfulness educator for almost 20 years. 

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Dave Dockins