The pelvic tilt and the pelvic lift are two yoga movements commonly performed to alleviate lower back stress and help improve posture. In addition, both movements strengthen muscles that provide support for your abdominals, lower back and pelvic area. Obstetricians often recommend pelvic tilts and lifts to relieve back pain caused by pregnancy. As with any yoga movement, proper form is important to receive maximum benefit and avoid injury. While they look similar, the pelvic lift is an advanced form of the pelvic tilt.(Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)
Starting Position for Both Movements
Lie on your back on a flat surface and relax your hands on your abdomen. Alternately, lay your arms 6 to 12 inches away from your body and leave your palms facing up. If your neck feels strain from this position, place a small pillow or folded towel beneath your head for support. Ensure your chin is below forehead height. Space your legs hip-width apart and place your feet flat on the ground, parallel to each other. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. The bent legs lengthen your spine, providing tension relief. You can relax in this position for a few minutes before beginning the pelvic tilt or lift.
How to Perform the Pelvic Tilt
Lie in starting position and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, tighten your abdominal muscles, causing a slight pelvic tilt. While you flex your abdominals, imagine pulling your bellybutton toward your spine. Inhale slowly and release the pelvic tilt, you should feel the muscles along your spine relaxing. Continue the exhale-to-inhale pattern with the pelvic tilt, ensuring you completely empty and fill your lungs with each breath.
How to Perform the Pelvic Lift
Lie in starting position and flex your abdominals to tilt the pelvis slightly with an exhale. Hold the flexion through your next inhale. As you exhale a second time, press down with your feet evenly and slowly lift more of your spine from the floor. Stop lifting as you inhale. Continue to lift more of your lower, middle and then upper back from the floor with each exhale. Stop lifting when your body no longer is comfortable. Hold the lifted position for one or two breaths and slowly release back to starting position.
The pelvic tilt is a small movement that engages the abdominals, strengthening them. It provides tension relief in the lower back and aids in relaxation. The pelvic lift is a more advanced movement that targets the glutes and hamstrings along with the abdominals. It provides stress relief and muscle strengthening across the entire back. Beginners should perform the pelvic tilt regularly before beginning the pelvic lift.
Consult a physical therapist or health care professional before attempting to self-treat pain or tension with the pelvic tilt or lift. She can assess if the movements will help your condition and show you proper form. In addition, she can advise you on how often to perform the movements for maximum benefit.REFERENCES & RESOURCES Essential Yoga: Olivia H. Miller and Nicole Kaufman Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma: Low Back Program Exercises