Despite being surrounded by dense, connective ligaments, your sacroiliac joint is at risk of being injured in yoga. Forward-bending and hip rotation exercises can spell trouble if you don't know how to take care of this normally stable joint. Make sure to include back-bending poses in your practice, as well as standing poses that strengthen your hips and glutes.
Connecting the sacrum to the ilium is a group of ligaments, which are thick and sturdy bands of tissue that connect bones. The ligaments are the sacroiliac ligament, sacrotuberous ligament, sacrospinous ligament, and the interosseous ligament. When you move your legs or twist your back, your SI joint is designed to move slightly. When you walk, for example, your ilium twist on your sacrum and move the sacroiliac joint slightly. If there is an injury to the ligaments of your SI joint, you'll have more motion than normal.
SI Joint Muscles
Your glutes and lower back muscles can help protect your sacrum by holding it in place when your ilium move. This adds an extra layer of security to your SI joint. That's why it's important to practice backward-bending and standing poses that strengthen then lower back and glute muscles if you want to take care of your SI joint.
Because forward-bending motions put your SI joint at risk of injury, back-bending poses are safer and can actually help an SI joint injury.
How To: Lie on the ground on your stomach with your toes pointed down and the top of your foot on the ground. With your hands under your shoulders, straighten your arms out and lift your chest and stomach up off of the mat, keeping your hips and legs down. Only go as far as you feel comfortable.
This is a back-bending pose, like Cobra, but it is more focused on strength than stretching.
How To: Lie on your stomach with your legs out straight. Reach your arms back straight and pull your shoulders, head and chest off of the ground. At the same time, lift your legs off of the ground so that only your hips and stomach are on the ground. Hold for five breaths, then relax and lower back to the ground.
This back-bending pose stretches out your quads, hip flexors and abs. It also strengthens your glutes and lower back muscles, which surround the sacrum and take pressure off of the SI joint.
How To: Lie on your stomach with your legs straight and arms by your sides. Bend your knees and grab your ankles with your hands. Press your legs back into your hands to pull your head, shoulders, and chest up off of the ground. Squeeze your butt and hold as long as you can.
This standing pose allows you to gently practice rotating your hips and strengthening the surrounding muscles without putting your SI joint that too much risk.
How To: Stand with your left foot forward with toes pointed straight ahead and right foot back and the toes pointed to the right. Your left and right heel should form a straight line. Raise your arms up, so that they are parallel to the floor. Lean forward and plant your left hand on your left shin. Rotate to your right and point your right arm up toward the ceiling. Repeat on the other side.
Extended Side Angle Pose
Similar to the Triangle Pose, this exercise helps you strengthen your glute and practice rotating your spine.
How To: Stand with your left foot forward and right foot back, angled out to the right. Your heels should form a straight line. Your front knee should be bent to a 90-degree angle. Lean forward and grab your left ankle with your left hand, going down the inside of your left leg with your left arm. Reach your right arm up and over your head so that it rests on your right ear. Hold that position and then switch sides.