Suddenly I heard a loud and ominous pop! I came out of the pose immediately. Over the next few days, I noticed increasing discomfort around my right sacroiliac joint. The pain prevented me from practicing seated and standing twists, and made forward bends unpleasant as well.
A trip to an orthopedist didn't provide any relief. The pain persisted, and I was left to figure out on my own what was going on in my back.
For the next week, I devoted my practice to only one type of pose per day. I practiced only seated twists one day; the next morning, I could hardly get out of bed. Clearly I was practicing twists in a way my body didn't like.
Yoga instructors often tell students to anchor the sitting bones while doing seated twists. But I discovered the hard way that the pelvis and sacrum must be allowed to move together while doing this movement. Anchoring the pelvis and simultaneously twisting the vertebral column separates the sacroiliac joint and strains the ligaments around it. When I changed the mechanics of my twisting practice, my pain resolved itself and never returned.
The ilium bones of the pelvis and the sacrum come together at the sacroiliac (SI) joint. This is a joint of stability, not mobility. While movement at the joint is allowed in order to facilitate walking, and moving from standing to sitting and back to standing, this movement is only about two to four millimeters. Honoring this stability is the key to maintaining a pain-free sacroiliac joint when you practice yoga asana.
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