Anatomy of The Pelvis

The Connected Yoga Teacher Live Show: Episode 8

Today on The Connected Yoga Teacher live show, Shannon talks about the basic anatomy of the pelvis and how this information and awareness can benefit our yoga practice, everyday movements and our pelvic health.

There is a video (to the left) that will walk you through this and also a diagram of the bony pelvis with anatomy labels we are covering today.

If you would like to print a copy of the pelvis diagram for yourself or your students, just click on the button below for the downloadable pdf.

Ischial Tuberosities (Sitz Bones)

Sit on the front edge of a chair with your knees bent. If there is a way to raise the feet up (on blocks or a stool) – you will notice the sitz bones more. Now wiggle a little side to side. Do you feel them?

Now with the awareness of where your ischial tuberosities are, move to stand. Where are they now? See if you can feel what happens to them when you move from standing towards a squat. Although it might feel odd to be palpating around your gluteus muscles (butt muscles) – you will learn a lot about anatomy and how the pelvis works by doing it.

Do you notice that the ischial tuberosities or sitz bones move further away from each other as you move towards a squat? This is why squats are so valuable when we want to make room in the pelvis for eliminations (as in birthing and bathroom time).

To learn more about squatting — the modifications and contraindications — click here.

 

Ishium (Bottom Of The Hip Bones)

The ishial tuberosities that you just found are part of the ishium, (bottom part of the hip bone).

 

Ilium (Top of The Hip Bones)

Come to stand and bring your hands to your hips. Can you trace the highest point of your hip bones? You have found your ilium. The very top of these are called the iliac crests.

The Ilium is the top part of the hip bone and if you have printed the diagram of the bony pelvis – you may want to add the iliac crest to it. This is the very top of the ilium. Often when I do this with students in class, they exclaim that they didn’t realize that the pelvis was so large. It is great to have them palpate all of the bones and to bring awareness to the size, strength and stability that the pelvis offers.

Also it is fun to then see where the rib cage is in relation to the ilium. This affects our side bending poses in yoga. If the distance between the rib cage and the ilium isn’t a lot, then it won’t take a lot of side bending to have bone to bone, therefore limiting the range of movement available. This is a great awareness to have as a yoga practitioner — that everyone is built relatively the same in terms of anatomy and yet we are all so unique, therefore our yoga poses are also unique.

 

The Hip Bone Is Made Up of The Ilium, Ishium and Pubis

At birth the ilium, ishium and pubis are all separate bones. As we mature, they fuse together and become the hip bone (also known as the os coxae). This is what can make the anatomy of the pelvis a little confusing. To add on to this confusion, anatomy lovers/scholars sometimes choose different names. They also get really excited about naming parts of bones. For example a hole in the bone can be called the foramen and a protrusion can be called a tuberosity (as in ishial tuberosity). Another example of this is the iliac crest (which as we discovered, is the upper edge of the ilium).

So when looking at an anatomy diagram – we might think that we can never learn all of these terms, but just a little at a time helps. It is useful to understand the basic anatomical parts, to inform how we move and to be able to speak to our healthcare team and yoga students, (if you are a yoga teacher), with confidence.

 

Pubis Bone and Pubic Symphysis

Can you find your pubic symphysis? This is where the two pubic bones meet. They are separated by fibrocartilage and connected by two ligaments, so there is a bit of movement here, and even more so in pregnancy and birth.

 

Coccyx (Tailbone)

The coccyx (or tailbone) is found when we follow the line of the spinal column – to the end. It is above the anus, but below the sacrum. If you have ever fallen on your tailbone or have had it move out of place you know where it is. The tailbone actually moves when a woman is birthing a baby. With this information we can see how important it is to encourage women to birth in a way that gives space for the tailbone to move.

If students are experiencing pain in the tailbone — I will suggest a visit with a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Sometimes then can adjust the tailbone to put it back in place.

 

Sacrum and The Sacroiliac Joint (SI Joint)

Place your hands on your low back, just below where your belt would go. If you move from stand to a forward fold with bent knees you will notice the sacrum and might even feel the sacroiliac joint. This is where the sacrum meets the ilium. When there is movement here or if things are not aligned, there can be pain. I talk about this more in a video about pelvic girdle pain and pelvic symmetry. I will share that video below.

 

Acetabulum

This is literally where the leg bone is connected to the hip bone. The Acetabulum is where the head of the femur (top of the leg bone) goes. If you are at standing and you move the leg around you can bring mobility to the femur in the acetabulum.

There is a quick overview of the bony structure of the pelvis. I would love it if you would share questions in the comments section below. Also if you are using this information in your classes — let me know. I am thrilled when teachers open the conversation of pelvic health.

Pelvic Symmetry Sequence

In another video I shared I talked about Pelvic Girdle Pain and I shared a pelvic symmetry sequence that I use in all of my pelvic health group classes as well as with students who are needing a symmetrical, calming yoga flow. This sequence balances the strengthening and the mobility in the pelvis.