Functional Yoga – To Lotus or not to Lotus

functional yoga

Functional Yoga means understanding how our individual bone structure is integral to our ability to safely access poses such as the seated Lotus pose.

The hip joint is made up of a “socket” on the pelvis & a “ball” at the top of your thigh bone (femur), which we call the femoral head.

Around the hip joint are a lot of muscles, a joint capsule, & connective tissue.

Things we have to consider for poses such as Lotus include:

Depth of Hip Socket

Hip socket orientation (placement)

Femoral neck angle

Length of femoral neck

Variation will dictate the range of motion the femur in the socket will have.

functional yoga

Our Femur bones nestle into the hip socket & aid flexion, extension & rotation of the hip joint.

When we think about hip internal & external rotation, we consider what is happening at the hip joint & not what is happening at the foot. For internal rotation, the inner thighs roll inward & towards the back, you are turning your femur (thigh bone) inward towards your pelvis. For external hip rotation, the inner thighs are rolled outward & to the front.

You may have to work through some muscle tension in your adductor muscles, the internal rotators, & deeper tissues.

But even after doing this, what will allow us to safely access this particular posture is the shape of the two bones that make up our hip joint: the femur & the pelvis, & their functionality for external rotation that is required for the Lotus pose.

For example, the bony structure of the hip socket called the acetabulum can vary immensely from person to person. While one yoga student may have a shallow acetabulum, another may have a much deeper one. This variation can impact the range of movement of the hip joint in all directions. The actual position of the acetabulum on the hip bone also varies immensely. Some people have an acetabulum positioned slightly further forward on the hip bone or further back, angled upward or downward. If we use the image below as an example, courtesy of Paul Grilley.

functional yoga

We also have different shapes in our bones, called Torsion. Torsion is the natural spiral shape of our bones. In some people, this can be a little; for others, more vast. If we use the image below as an example, again courtesy of Paul Grilley. He demonstrates two extremes of femoral torsion. Looking down at the neck/head of two left femurs.

functional yoga

The femur on the left might make it reasonably easy for a student to sit in Lotus Pose, while the femur on the right might make it difficult for that student to even sit crossed-legged.

External rotation can be limited by tightness in the muscles/ tissues that surround the joint. But what can ultimately prevent us from accessing this seated position is compression: this is when bone hits bone & when the neck of the femur meets the rim of the hip socket. As we reduce tightness, it will become compression, limiting our safe range of movement.

Understanding that the ultimate range of motion in our physical body is our skeletal structure enables you to build a functional yoga approach to your Yin yoga practice & allows for a healthy relationship to be developed with your body. In addition to avoiding injuries.

It can initiate both the exploration & development of a more conscious personal practice & allow us to build a healthier relationship with our own bodies. We can become more mindful of our practice’s motivation to improve our body’s functionality, the fluidity of our connective tissue, our range of motion & to remove stagnant energy, our Chi.

You can develop a functional approach & feel empowered. Understand the entire anatomy of Functional Yoga & the biomechanics of your body; explore functional movement & how your skeletal structure can affect your poses while learning a wide range of creative Yin yoga variations.

55/100 hr Yin Yoga Teacher Training & 200 hr Vinyasa/Yin Yoga. Yoga Alliance accredited. 2022/2023 dates.

Copyright © Akira Yoga 2019. All Rights Reserved.

akirayogaLTD 13569397

akirayogaLTD 13569397

Copyright © Akira Yoga 2019. All Rights Reserved.