Alignment Question: What does line up your head with your pelvis mean?
Cross the midline: crossing your center axis
Open twist: twist in which you are twisting away from the midline rather than across the midline
Forward Head Posture: over rounding in your cervical spine usually due to computer and cell phone usage. Head leans forward reducing the natural lordosis curvature of your cervical spine.
After class I encourage questions, and one from last week was about an alignment cue I like to use in standing postures, especially those with the tendency to lean in too much or cross the midline in an open twist: "Line up the back of your head with the back of your pelvis." What does this mean? I like to use this verbal cue in Trikonasana (triangle) and standing postures in which forward head posture is a common habit, or leaning into the posture creates imbalance and a frustrating experience in the posture.
Imagine a line down the center of your yoga mat; line your feet up in trikonasana so that your feet are on either side of this midline, heel to arch or heel to heel alignment (everyone's hips and legs are different). When you enter Trikonasana (take your hand to your shin and make a connection with resistance, i.e. push hand to shin, push shin to hand); look to see if you are crossing the midline of your mat in a forward fold, instead line your spine up with the mat's midline in a side bend, as Trikonasana is intended to be. Not only will this line up help your balance, but also for spinal integrity. You will feel your hips rotate, your core engage, and you will feel the pressure removed from the front hip.
Try this same alignment tip standing in Tadasana (mountain) and see if you are veering toward a forward head posture. Notice the zipping up motion this creates in your core and your spine. Try this alignment point in any posture where you feel your head pulling forward or you feel yourself reaching too far in the posture. Pulling your head back in line with your pelvis will also help efficiently engage your core and aid in balance while walking and even more important, in standing and sitting positions off the yoga mat.
Some posture to try this alignment cue in:
Side Angle (helps keep your spine long, midline long, and center axis strong)
Warrior 3 (helps with balance and spinal lift)
High Lunge (helps release pinching in the lumbar spine)
Warrior 1 (also help release pinching in lumbar spine as well as isolating the movement in your core from the movement in your hips, but I'll save that for another day)