Turning The Pelvis With Ease

This week's newsletter article is a guest post by one of our guest teachers in our courses, Catherine McCrum. Catherine is a Feldenkrais practitioner and Gestalt psychotherapist living and working in London. The Feldenkrais Method is a way of improving how you move and function in daily life with a particular focus on how your unconscious movement patterns and posture holds you back from doing what you want to do with ease and grace. She works with a wide variety of clients and students from athletes and performers to people with neurological difficulties. Her original training was as a ski coach and trainer which she finds very applicable to her relatively new love of riding and her horse. http://www.catherinemccrum.com/

In the 6 Dressage Essentials Course a question came up how to steer and bend the horse with the pelvis and belly button. I would address this by developing your awareness of the whole structure of your pelvis through small movements which give you sensory feedback of how the pelvis is connected and related to the whole of you.

Some thoughts on rotation.

You can initiate the turning or advancing of one hip in relation to the other by 'placing' your attention on different parts of your pelvis rather than just your hip bones or just your belly button.

Each part of your pelvis that you initiate from will have a different feel and a different impact on your horse. You may then start to notice what works best for him/her according to what you’re asking.

The more you clarify your sensory awareness of the possible movements of your pelvis, the more you'll free up your legs to help balance your horse or give clear directional aids.  

On the question of moving the belly button independently of the pelvis, there are very few degrees of rotation available in the lumbar spine. The lumbar spine is located directly behind your belly button, so when you turn your belly button your lumbar spine can turn your pelvis, your chest and shoulders and your head. You can rotate the thoracic and cervical vertebrae which in turn will rotate the shoulders and head in relation to the pelvis. You can also rotate the pelvis in relation to the legs because of the ball and socket hip joints.

Turning your pelvis with ease

Below are a few movements that help clarify some of the possible movements of the pelvis and hip joints. I’ve written them for only one side.

1. Sit at the front of a firm chair with your knees and feet fairly wide apart.

2. Keeping your left sitting bone as the anchor point (you may also have a little bit more weight on it), advance your right knee forward a few cms in front of your left, then return to your starting place. Do this several times as slowly and as effortlessly as you can.

a. Notice how the angle between your left inner thigh and the front of your pelvis closes as you bring your right knee forward.  

b. Your right sitting bone will 'walk' forward and back but the movement is actually in your left hip joint.

3. Now move your right knee a little behind your left and then return. Do this several times smoothly and easily.

a. The angle between your left inner thigh and your pelvis will open a little.

4. Stay with your right knee behind your left knee so your left sitting bone is slightly rotated backwards. Very softly move your right knee inwards and outwards as if you were trying to 'differentiate' your right femur from your pelvis.

a. Can you do this without disturbing your pelvis and without shifting your weight?

b. Are you still breathing??

5. Return to facing square to the front. Move your right knee alternately forward and back within an easy range whilst keeping your left sitting bone in the same place on the chair (it may swivel a little). 

a. Can you initiate this movement from different parts of your pelvis? You could start from the right hip bone or the right sitting bone, the right hip joint, or even the right side of your pelvis at the back. You could also initiate from the left side of your pelvis. Or even both sides of your pelvis at once.

Change sides and repeat the directions with your other leg.