In the October, 2011 issue of Yoga Journal, Jason Crandell’s column “Align + Refine” discusses how one slight adjustment to your alignment can drastically broaden the powerful effects of backbends — especially with the aid of props. His article translates the alignment adjustment through three common backbends, with the Three Minute Egg featured prominently in two of them.
The adjustment is simple, Jason says: tilt your pelvis backward in a posterior tilt to initiate the bend, and lightly draw in your lower abdomen. A little bit goes a long way; it helps to lengthen the lower back and free any strain or compression. The additional use of yoga props along with this technique helps to reinforce its effects.
In Cobra Pose, Jason tells us how using props helps to increase the engagement of your lower abdominal muscles by elevating the pelvis. On page 92, he says to “place your bolster or two Eggs vertically in the middle of your mat, [lying] face down on [them] so that the bottom edge[s] are nestled just above your pubic bone and between each hip point,” avoiding direct contact with the bony portions of your pelvis. Lifting into Cobra, “feel the prop pressing against your lower abdomen, allow[ing] the prop to help you draw your lower abdomen toward your spine, which will help you elongate your lower back.”
Elevating your hands on Eggs in Upward-Facing Dog Pose, Jason says on page 94, strengthens your leverage as you strive for the ideal pelvic tilt. Begin by placing two Eggs on the front edge of your mat and move into Cat Pose. While keeping your hands on the Eggs, notice “how your abdomen engages and your tailbone lifts, and lift the front rim of your pelvis up and away from your thighs.” Keep your pelvis here as you move forward and hover above the floor. While rooting down through your fingers, “keep your arms straight and come into Upward-Facing Dog by pressing through the base of your toes, lifting your knees off the floor, and engaging your thighs.” You may even feel the length of the arc all the way through your spine.
Thank you for your continued expertise and inspiration, Jason, and for your suggested guidance with the Eggs!