Your teacher will reference the tailbone many times in class. Here's the what, why and how. Hope you enjoy the read.
It took me a long time, a few years actually to properly learn how to tuck my tailbone in or maybe more correctly said learning to create posterior tilt of the pelvis (see pic below). Tucking the tailbone in can mean a few things, but generally speaking in yoga class (or at least in my classes) it’s the posterior tilt of the pelvis, which means that the hips moving slightly back and the pubic bone moving forward and up towards the navel, this also flattens the curve of your lumbar spine. To learn the correct way of doing this takes practice, and it will also tone your lower abdomen, it will really be hugely beneficial for your yoga practice, but don’t worry if you don’t get it straight away, like I said it took be a long time and a lot of practice, but saying that when I really made the effort to try harder it was well worth it. It can also take time due to the muscles are tight and it takes time to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak.
This will have a huge effect if you suffer from lower backache, which usually comes from an exaggerated curve of your lumbar spine. I used to suffer a lot from lower backache, when I started yoga it more or less disappeared except for when I had to stand for long periods or when I was on my feet more or less the whole day, until the penny finally dropped and I realised, that bringing my pubic bone towards the navel and the navel towards the spine it was an instant relief. I started to practice it thru out the day and started walking like that, and the more I practiced it started to become a habit and now I very rarely get lower backache and if I do I know its due to I have “stuck my tailbone out” instead of in. Now this might not work for everyone and of course lower backache can be due to other things, this is just one of them.
To do this imagine its a zip from the pubic bone towards the navel, and then zip the pubic bone towards the navel, and imagine the navel towards the spine is like a drawstring bag, (it’s not to suck the tummy in, this is a much more gentle way) so zip up (pubic bone towards navel) and close the drawstring bag (navel towards the spine).
You can practice this anywhere and the more you do the easier it will be, and then you can use it in your yoga practice, especially in your back bends where if you have a flexible lumbar (like myself) its extra important. I kept getting a slight sore lower back in back bends, my teachers kept telling me to tuck the tailbone in and I did, and they kept saying do it more, and when I finally did (I thought I did it enough, but it wasn’t enough) it was a huge relief and now I hardly ever get sore and if i do it’s a reminder to tuck my tailbone in more.
Nina Hayden is an Iyengar yoga teacher, based in Co. Kildare. Nina was a fellow student of Stuart's at IYOGA, Phibsborough, Dublin. 'Thank you so much Nina for excellent piece. S.'