Updated: Sep 8
Brahma Granthi 101 - Sacrum, Hips, Bandhas
The Sacrum is the base of our spine, the root of our posture, so, in the Vedic perspective, the Sacrum is the structural heart of Bramha Granthi. It lies deep inside the pelvis so its position and movement is difficult to see and feel. So the bigger structures surrounding the sacrum, two large handles that define the outer shape of the pelvis, provide an entry-level to understanding the sacrum. With many other easily “definable” boney landmarks, and that the best place to start any new structural, functional or energetic exploration is through the Apanic perspective of grounding, Bramha Granthi is the perfect entry point for a deeper descent down the rabbit hole of Somatic Awareness. But, there’s a catch. Because Bramha granthi also contains primitive existential relationship programming that most everyone has at least some less than kind history with. So great care and compassion is absolutely required to therapeutically untie, even just at the structural level, this amazing Knot. But not to worry, because the large easy to feel bones will get us over the nervousness of learning therapeutic palpation around our Naught Bits quickly.
So, from the super simple palpation exercise I gave you in post #3, you have a basic feel of the crests of your Ilia, right? We’ll now expand our structural exploration so you can feel, both externally with your hands and maybe begin to feel internally (Look ma, no hands :-) the foundation of your…... Personality...... your pelvic tilt.
The Major Bony Landmarks of the Pelvis
From this kind of exploratory touch called palpation plus some visual understanding of this whole pelvis, we will gradually get a similar external understanding of the small sacrum inside and eventually get an even deeper internal kinesthetic felt sense of this Keystone bone and how it undulates in our spinal structure. Each Ilium, (AKA innominate bone) you held in the palm of your hands have a long continuous ridge of bone on top called the crest. Similar to a horseshoe or toilet seat, posteriorly the sacrum forms the base while the crests form the arms that reach around the sides and forward. Each ilium also has a shorter but thicker boney bit on the bottom. Everyone who is sitting has a feel for these, so they are given the common name Sitz Bones. Another major bony landmark where the left and right ilium join in the front is also easy to palpate, the Pubic Bone. Also not so hard to find is the tip of the sacrum called the Coccyx or tailbone. These bones at the bottom of the pelvis are the attachments of the muscles of the pelvic floor which is steeped in taboo in most cultures of the world and so can be a major focal point of emotional instability. So palpating these bones should only be done with great care and a grounded therapeutic intention..
Using our careful sensitive hands we will now learn to physically connect to, and at the same time become physically aware of each of these bony landmarks of the pelvis. Once this sense of connecting from outside your body to become aware from the inside your body becomes clear and steady, only then can we begin to feel and understand our pelvis’s position in space, ie Posture.
Palpation Exercise 2
Handling Your Pelvis
Again, with the "palms" of your hands squeeze into the soft part of your waste and press down on the crests of your ilia. Then slide your fingers forwards to the ASIS, then slide your thumbs backward to the PSIS, then settle your whole hands back on the crests. Now begin rocking your belly forward and backward, feeling your pelvis pivot on your hip joints. This anterior and posterior tilting of your pelvis I respectively and affectionately label Ghetto Bootie and Gangsta Bootie. One of these Postures will feel more natural.
The Sacrum and Coccyx
Inside your pelvis, there are many vertebrae. Just like the vertebrae of your spine only these vertebrae in your pelvis are fused. One group of vertebrae, the easy one to palpate consists of 5 bones that form the Sacrum. The sacrum is located between the Posterior Iliac Spines so, first press down on the crests of your ilia again, then slide your thumbs backward and find the Posterior Ilia Spine that runs between the PSIS and PIIS. (getting used to the medical lingo yet ;-) Then move the tips of your thumbs medially (toward the midline of the spine) so the first joint of your thumbs rest on that PIS. Your fingertips will usually sink into a slight depression that is softer than the PIS. They are pressing into the left and right sides of the sacrum. Take a few breaths to move your thumbs back and forth between this softer depression of the sacrum and the iliac spine. As you feel the space between these 2 bones, you are feeling the Sacro-Iliac joints. When this is clear, you can move your thumbs more medially on the sacrum where you will feel more boney bits at the midline. These are the spinous processes of each vertebra of the sacrum. Palpate each of them, up and down, and you will discover that there are five of them, and, as you keep moving down further you will get to some smaller bones at the bottom. These fused bones form the point of the arrow of the Sacrum called the tailbone or Coccyx. Harder to count, so just trust there are 4. Work your thumbs down to the end (you might need to switch to your fingertips at some point to get there) and you can feel the tip of your Coccyx.
Now, while you're there, do as Guruji would say and "Squeeze your Anus" a few times and you will feel some muscle action here. Welcome to the posterior muscular aspect of your Mula Bandha. The many aspects of the Bandhas will be covered later.
You'll need to stand up....then again... find the crests of your ilia. Keep contact and slide your hands down a bit so you are holding the crests from the sides.
A softer feel? You got it..... Now, continue sliding your palms down from the crests towards your legs. Keep firm pressure as you slide and you will feel, a large bone under the muscles. Move up and down over this bone to really feel it. This is the Greater Trochanter of the Femur. Now, if you work your Ghetto and Gangsta tilts your hands will feel that these trochanters of the femurs also move forward and back respectively (Internal awareness). You can also see your knees move in and out (External Awareness). Good to get the first feel and look now, this femur rotation with pelvis tilt gear action will be explored later.
The Sitz Bones
We sit on them so much that most of us know our sitz bones, but to get more understanding and awareness of them let's explore them with our hands. Lift each sitz bone so you can slide your fingers under and sit on them (a rock-hard surface is not recommended ;-). Then roll your pelvis back and forth (Gangsta and Ghetto) to feel the whole Ischial tuberosity rolling on your fingers. Then, sit naturally and curl your fingertips around the sitz bone and squeeze your anus again. Muscle action? Welcome to the left and right muscular attachments of your Mula Bandha.
The Pubic Bone
Again, starting with your hands on the crest of the ilium (a safe place), move your fingertips forwards to the ASIS. Continue around this corner, sliding medially onto the soft muscles of your lower abdomen. If you’re not flexing your abs for a Muscle and Fitness cover shot, your fingers will sink in deeper into your abdomen the harder you press. (Toilet break anyone?) So get a feel of how much pressure might feel like a bit too much (crazy), then release but don’t lose contact (Lazy), and move your fingertips down an inch and again, press firmly into your Soft abdomen. Still Soft? Then release and move down an inch and press again. Repeating this will progress your fingertips right into the top of your Pubic bone. Rest them there and tilt your pelvis backward, Gangsta Bootie. Muscle action? Welcome to the attachment of your six-pack abs, your rectus abdominis muscle.
Now, again keeping firm contact on the bone (the safe place), move your fingers down the front edge of the pubic bone until you feel the narrow space in the very center. 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, the pubic arch. Then, as you might have guessed, again Squeeze Your Anus. Muscle action? Then show your Ghetto Bootie. Same same? Welcome to the anterior attachment of Mula Bandha.
So at this point, you should have a pretty good idea of what your pelvic tilt is, Ghetto or Gangsta Bootie. And maybe even getting a better feel of your Mula 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 you feel completely comfortable, teach it to a friend or student.
Questions and comments in the FB post work best, see ya there.