Meditations can be done sitting down or laying down. The only issue with laying down is that you run the risk of falling asleep. So how do you circumvent that risk? You sit down for your meditations of course! But if you have anterior pelvic tilt it can be difficult to sit comfortably to meditate.
So What is Anterior Pelvic Tilt?
Well normally the pelvis is aligned straight up vertically so Anterior pelvic tilt is when the top of your pelvis is tilted forward.
The reason this happens is because of an imbalance in the activity of the muscles that are attached to your hips/pelvis.
Forward Pulling Muscles
The muscles that pull your pelvis forward are the:
- Quads – these are the muscles at the front of your thigh
- Hip flexors – these are at the front of your hip. You can feel them working when you lift your left
- Spinal erectors – these are groups of muscles and tendons that connect from your spine to the front of your pelvis
Backward Pulling Muscles
The muscles that pull your pelvis backward are the:
Your glutes and hamstrings pull down on your pelvis from behind while your abs pull up on your pelvis resulting in the top of the pelvis being rotated backwards.
In anterior pelvic tilt, your pelvis is being pulled forward too much. This means your quads, hip flexors, and spinal erectors are overworking while your glutes, hamstrings, and/or abdominals are weak and aren’t as active as they should be.
You May Have Anterior Pelvic Tilt
You might notice that you have anterior pelvic tilt if you look in the mirror and notice a few indicators:
- Your lower belly, under your belly button, is sticking out so it looks like you have a gut
- Your lower back looks like it is over-arched
- You butt is sticking out. It will look like you are purposefully arching your lower back to make your butt look bigger when in reality you are not.
- Your hamstrings feel tight and it may be hard to stretch them
If you notice these signs then chances are you may have anterior pelvic tilt. These signs together are indicative of anterior pelvic tilt but make sure you see a doctor to verify.
If you see only one of these then it is less likely you have it. For example, if you just see your lower belly sticking out then you may just have a gut :).
How Does Anterior Pelvic Tilt Affect Sitting?
As I mentioned previously, your pelvis is tilting forward. You may not notice this and think that your pelvis is positioned normally.
So when it comes to ‘sitting straight’ for meditation, you will pull your pelvis inward to prevent your lower back from sagging. When you do this, you are actually overarching your lower back.
You are tilting your pelvis further forward and activating the exact muscles that are causing the issue in the first place. This puts strain on your lower back muscles resulting in muscle aches.
When I would do this I thought “Wow this kind of hurts my back, I wonder why no one ever complains about back aches while meditating”.
To me, I didn’t feel like there was any issue with my form at all. In my mind, naturally my lower back was not straight so I had to pull it in to make my back straight. This turned out not to be the case.
As a result, I was not able to sit comfortably to meditate because of how much I was flexing my lower back muscles.
How to Sit Comfortably to Meditate
Being comfortable when you are trying to meditate is imperative to your success. An awkward sitting position or uncomfortable surface can make or break your meditation session.
When it comes to anterior pelvic tilt, putting too much strain on your lower back can interfere with your concentration.
I have found that there are two good ways to sit comfortably to meditate.
The first is to sit in a chair with a firm support for your lower back or to place a cushion behind your lower back to support it.
The second way is to sit normally and then rotate your pelvis backwards. This will let your lower back ‘melt’ into a relaxed position. Since your pelvis will be in the position it should naturally be, it won’t cause your lower back to strain.
This will feel like your back is not straight, but since you have anterior pelvic tilt your lower back will actually be (mostly) in its naturally straight position.
How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt
Dealing with pelvic tilt can be irritating, especially since you have to alter your sitting position to accommodate it.
Reiterating, this condition is caused by the overworking of the forward-pulling muscle group (the quads, hip flexors, and spinal erectors) and the underworking/weakness of the backward-pulling set of muscles (glutes, hamstrings, and/or abs).
Since the overworking muscle group is in fact overworking, the muscles themselves shorten as they do when they are flexed. As you can imagine, as one set of muscles shortens the other set lengthens.
How it Works
An apparent example of this is the bicep/tricep mechanism. As you pull your forearm towards your shoulder, your biceps is shortening (flexing) while your tricep is lengthening.
As you push your forearm away from your shoulder, your bicep is lengthening while your tricep is shortening (flexing).
You may notice that your hamstrings are tight and can be difficult or even painful to stretch. This means it has lengthened too much.
The worst thing you could do in this situation is stretch and loosen your hamstrings! This is essentially giving your pelvis some room to tilt forward even more.
Think of a game of tug-o-war. One team is the forward-pulling set of muscles while the other team is the backward-pulling set of muscles and the center of the rope is the top of your pelvis.
By stretching and loosening your hamstrings, you are letting the forward-pulling set of muscles win! There has to be balance between both sets of muscles.
Stretching and Strengthening
So how do you attain balance between the two? Since the front-pulling muscles are shortened, you have to stretch these muscles. Since the backward-pulling muscles are weak, you have to strengthen those ones. I found a Youtube channel showing stretches and exercises very well – they are informative and get straight to the point.
Hip Flexor Stretch
Now that you have the knowledge necessary to identify whether you have anterior pelvic tilt or not, you can do the appropriate stretches and exercises to correct it. As with meditations, it is a good idea to take a routine slowly. Make sure that you are not overdoing it so that you can stick to the routine. It’s understandable that you may want to fix your issue as soon as possible but it is important that you are able to stick to your routine. That’s the key to fixing the issue – consistency.