What my buttocks are doing

This morning, I paid attention to what my butt was doing in ustrasana. I assumed it was clenching, and I discovered that, in fact, I was absolutely right about that.

So I unclenched. Which is rather difficult, because it’s a habit. Because I am all about controlling situations. Verily, it works marvelously — for the most part. Yes, I am organized and punctual and well-scheduled. But you know, sometimes you just have to relax. Which is not my strong suit.

This morning, I set up for ustrasana and relaxed my butt. Sank back. Hey, no sacrum pain. Is this real? I clenched to see. Yup, sacrum pain! Wow — who knew? The sacrum pain I assumed I was avoiding (by clenching my butt muscles) is actually CAUSED by the contraction.

What I also discovered, when I called to mind Patrick’s question about where I FEEL the pose, was a huge surprise: when I lay off the tight butt muscles, I feel pain (HUGE tension) in my traps.

The old shell game! Using lower body stress to cover for upper body tension. Once I recognized the game, I laid off the butt/sacrum and worked on relaxing my traps/neck. (Why, exactly, do I have these games and secrets I keep from myself? I feel like I know about them subconsciously, but they have a life of their own that I only find out about when I practice…)

Once the clenching and relaxing business was squared away a bit, the motion of moving into and out of the pose unfurled in a really lovely, spiney manner.

During urdhva dhanurasana, I pushed up and just held (as suggested by Owl). I found out that I believe that if I am not pushing, I am being a slacker. And to top it off, when I am pushing, I forget about breath. So basically, if I am not pushing and holding my breath, I feel like I am not working hard enough.

In the poorly edited Psoas Book (actually, let me restate: it is a SHOCKINGLY HORRIBLY edited book), anyhow, in the book the author talks about how children learn to hold their breaths to modulate their bodily experiences/emotions. Waaaah! Seriously, do I have to go back to my childhood to fix this, or can I just change things up in the present and move forward?

This morning’s UDs were all about holding the physical pose, and breeeeeeaaaaathing. Five breaths each for the first three, then ten each for the last two. It is laughable, I suppose, but the breathing part of this seems like new territory. Backbending has seemed so muscularly challenging that I now find I have to remember the other things: relaxing, breathing, unclenching.


During janu C, The Cop makes note that my butt is off the ground as I lean forward. I sit back and show him that my butt used to be on the floor when I first started and my heel was pointing more toward my trunk. Now that the foot is straight up and down, it lifts me up off the floor a bit. I push my heel away from my body with my hand, and it adjusts another notch further away from my trunk. “Once it gets all the way cranked backwards, my butt’ll be back on the floor.”

He gives me a “euw, yuck!” look.

Yeah, I’ve seen that before. He’ll be coveting mulabandhasana in no time…


5 Responses

  1. 🙂

    (P.S. Using anal retentiveness to overcome anal retention–LOL. Hey, it’s a recursive practice. Which I love.)

  2. I know! There’s no escaping myself. What a world.

  3. hi karen
    i had heard about this soft buttocks in UD before. i mean i remember springy sitarist instructing me to not tense those muscles. mine are probably rock hard from stress at those coming up to standing moments, and the rear of my quads are like jelly, when they should be the ones to be rock hard to bring me up. last week seven petal lotus checked the rear of my quad muscles in UD and they were like pudding.

    it makes sense that the buttocks should be soft, doesn’t it, so that the front muscles bring you up, and the legs, of course. the buttocks don’t have to be doing anything then. i asked myself what would happen if i told myself, “this week i’m coming to standing by myself.” i was a bit embarrased when teacher’s sub on sunday asked me if i was coming to standing and dropping back by myself and i had to admit no. she hadn’t assisted me in a while so she was checking in.
    cheers, arturo

  4. Oh, how interesting! I need to check the status of my butt and quads! It is difficult, since I am at work. Hmmm, I think I wil go to the bathroom and try it. I have a feeling I am a little crazy… 🙂

  5. hi alfia
    are you doing an UD in the restroom at work? hehe. we won’t tell anyone. i think we all understand.
    cheers, arturo

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