4.2 Palpating_Posture: Touching Bodies Therapeutically
Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Now that you have a feel for the major bony landmarks of your pelvis, we can take it to the next level palpating another person's pelvis. The position of your body and the movements you used are basically the same, but there's an extra and important difference, and that is “This is not Your Body”.
So obvious so it is easy to neglect, it needs to be addressed directly before any palpation begins. This is so no unknown emotional dynamics get triggered in the palpation where the therapy not only gets lost, but is possibly re-traumatizing to both of you. Touched on earlier, let’s detail the simple pieces to help keep this valuable touch relationship solidly grounded in therapy.
Step 1 Get generally settled in your body, breath and emotions.
Step 2 Get perfectly clear of the landmarks and sequence of contact you will use,
So Palpating yourself again might be needed, and if doing this prep takes more than…....... 10 seconds, else you should probably put this off till later until you are Completely Well Practiced on your self.
HANDLING “THEIR” PELVIS
The Yoga Chikitsa of Touch
To minimize any curious emotional stuff around laying hands on other's bodies, Especially their Pelvis, you gotta have that completely managed in self palpation, Period. That means even the subtlest Chitta Vrittis arising from Your Hands exploring Your Own pelvis should be well managed by your breath, PERIOD. The CV's will be stronger palpating them and you Will transmit that insecurity into them. (A future article) To insure this does not happen, there are two vital things needed to settle your self in the therapeutic state that makes You ready for First Contact….. In any hands on situation. (Pick your favorite)
Making First Contact
Relaxed Steady Breath and No Finger Tips
1 - Just Breath down into your feet. This grounded rootedness of being in your body (Even if you’re spinning in your mind) is the core energy of kinesthetic body awareness that turns disembodied, nervous, grabbing hands into secure therapeutic tools of exploration and intervention. Much easier to practice on your own body, this simple conscious focus is vitally important as you begin touching someone else, so get good at it. Period. Else you’ll just messing around with someone else's pelvis sensitivities.
2 - Use Only the Palm of your hands to establish a Full Steady contact, on “Bone” (not muscle). Because palpation will transmit many things to the person you are palpating very directly. Weather you don’t have any physical skills or just can’t keep your intention of touch clean and clear, this all is fully transmitted with the directness of hand contact. Fast fingertip movement on muscle does not transmit any secure feeling to the person you are palpating and can easily activate a tickle (or other more charged emotional) response that will completely distract any therapeutic or educational value. Palms of the hands are always used for first contact.
Important Note here: If you can not manage these two things, just excuse yourself from the palpation and simply say, “Sorry, but I can't seem to get focused enough for this right now”. Then meditate on these feelings later ;-)
Palpation Exercise 1
The Crest of the Ilium
Again take the palms of your hands and squeeze them into the soft part of Their waste and press down on the crests of their ilia. This should feel stabilizing for them. "Guide them to feel that". Only then do you know you’ve got it and can move on in the palpation sequence.
Palpation Exercise 2
Adding Therapeutic Fingers
Now that you have made a safe feeling contact with your palms resting on the crest of their ilia, only now is it responsible to begin using your finger tips to gather more information. Even if you were the Tickle Monster, the feared terror of your family and friends, the “palm only with breath awareness” contact will interfere greatly with those unconscious old habits of physical Teasing. If you can’t maintain this grounded awareness, your fingers will not feel safe to them, and you can simply say,
“Sorry, but I can't seem to get focused enough for this right now”
Then meditate on this later ;-)
Anterior and Posterior Iliac Spine
With your palms grounded on the crest (AKA the Iliac Spine) you can slowly and deliberately feel the crest of the ilium with your fingers. Simply make contact with the bone, pressing into it to get a more detailed feel than you can with your palms. When that feels comfortable for you, “Verify that with them”. Then, walk the fingers forward along the crest until your get to the end. This bony landmark is the Anterior Superior Iliac Spine, or ASIS for short. Take some breathing time to feel for its shape, then return your hands to the base position “Palms grounded on the Crest”. Now, using a palm-grounded thumb, gently make contact with the crest of both ilia and start moving them backward along the crest, “Check in with them” and again following the crest to the end. This bony landmark, the Posterior Superior Iliac Spine or PSIS has a different shape than the ASIS. Take some breathing time, getting a feel for its shape, then return your hands to the base position of first contact.
Now, using you fingers anteriorly and your thumb posteriorly, Take hold of each ilium with your whole hands. If they are big enough you can actually make simultaneous contact with your fingertips on the ASIS and your thumbs on the PSIS. If not, just holding the crest of each ilium with each hand is enough.
So here are the basic steps again.
If you need the details, just go back to post #4.1.
Ghetto and Gangsta Bootie
Hands on their Crests, Have them rock their belly forward and backward, feeling their pelvis pivot on their hip joints. “Guide them to feel this too”. One of these Postures will feel more exaggerated to you and more natural to them.
What’s your vote? Whats their vote? Ghetto or Gangsta?
Now from the Crests slide your palms down the side of their pelvis onto their legs. Keep firm pressure on the hips as you slide below the crest and you will feel, a large bone under the muscles. Move up and down, over this bone to confirm it. These are the Greater Trochanters of the longest bone in the body, the Femur. Have them rock their belly forward and backward, and feel the trochanters move forward and backward respectively. “Ask them to feel it too”.
The Sacrum and Coccyx
Hands on the crests, Thumbs back on the PIS, find both sides of the SI joints. “Verify that with them”. Now, turn their body left so they are sideways with your right hand touching their back and your left hand resting on their belly. Use your hands together to keep them centered and grounded. “Verify that with them”.
Using your right Tumb and Index Finger respectively, find their SI joints, Left and Right. Then move your fingertips medially to find the Spinous Processes on the midline (center) of the sacrum.
Follow these bumps down slowwwwly, staying Clearly connected to bone “Checking in with them” until you touch the tip of the Coccyx and…. “Check in with them”. Then have them Squeeze their Anus (you can’t do it for them) and both of you will feel the posterior attachment of Mula Bandha.
The Sitz Bones
Demonstrate to them what to do. Lift each Sitz Bone so they can slide their fingers under and sit on them. Then roll their pelvis back and forth (Gangsta and Ghetto) to feel the whole Ischial Tuberosity rolling on their fingers. Then have them sit naturally and curl their finger tips around the Sitzbone and have them squeeze their anus again. Feel muscle action? Welcome them to the left and right muscular attachments of their Mula Bandha.
The Pubic Bone
Return back the the side standing position, so your right hand is resting on their back and your left hand resting on their belly. Then just like you did with right hand on their SI joints, use your left Thumb and Index Finger respectively to find their Left and Right ASIS’s. Now move your fingertips to the center onto the soft muscles of their lower abdomen. “Check in that they feel comfortable” so they can Keep their belly soft, and slowly press you fingers into their belly firmly.
If you can easily press into their belly then move your finger tips down an inch and again, press firmly into their Soft abdomen. Still Soft? Then release and move down an inch and press again. Repeat this until you find the top of their Pubic bone. Rest your fingertips there and have them tilt their pelvis forwards into Ghetto Bootie then backwards into Gangsta Bootie.
Feel muscle action? Do they feel it?
Welcome them to the attachment of their six pack, their rectus abdominis muscle.
So, at this point, for You to continue palpating down to the Inferior angle of their pubic bone is discouraged, but you can demonstrate it so they find it themselves.
Each of you, keeping firm contact on the top if your own pubic bone (the safe place), move your fingers down the front edge of the pubic bone until you feel a narrow space in the very center open up. Your fingers (or just one) will fall into the body again here. Especially here, stay in firm contact with the bone and get a feel for this A shaped bottom of the pubic symphysis. Then, as you might have guessed, again Squeeze Your Anus.
Feel muscle action? Do they feel it?
Welcome to the anterior attachment of Mūla Bandha.
So at this point both of you should have a pretty good idea of what their pelvic tilt is, Ghetto or Gangsta Bootie. And maybe they are even getting a better feel of their Mūla and Uddyana Bandha. We'll feel into more Bandha details later, but for now, repeat this palpation sequence till it becomes familiar as Surya Namaskara, and, only if they feel completely comfortable, they can teach it to a friend.
Questions and comments in the FB post work best, see ya there.