Spinal Movements Sequence (Part 19): Anatomy and Neurophysiology of Standing Postures

Bianca Machliss in Utthita Parsvakonasana

Bianca Machliss in Utthita Parsvakonasana

This video is Part 19 of a YogaSynergy Spinal Movements Sequence taught by physiotherapist and Director of Yoga Synergy, Simon Borg-Olivier, which he teaches in person in courses throughout the world as well as Online in courses at RMIT University  and Online in courses at YogaSynergy called Yoga Fundamentals and Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga.

Edited Video Transcript and Notes:

“While still ‘stretching the mat with my feet’ I come back to a ‘plank’ position (san tolanasana) and push my hips towards my hands while breathing into my abdomen. Then, I bend my elbows by moving the shoulders forwards (and actually keeping the elbow itself still) to the ‘push-up’ position (cataranga dandasana), allowing the air to come out in a natural way.

“In the ‘Upward facing dog posture’ (Urdhva mukha svanasana) extending the spine from just below the top of the hips all the way to above the shoulders evenly throughout the body is challenging.

“I oppose the spinal extension (backward-bending) of the ‘Upward facing dog posture’ (Urdhva mukha svanasana) with the  spinal flexion (forward-bending) in the ‘Plank’ position (San tolanasana) and then a neutral shaped spine of the ‘Downward facing dog posture’ (Adho mukha svanasana).

” In this lunge movement, the left hip is flexed, the left knee is flexed while the right knee is extended, right hip is extended. This gives opposition in terms of musculoskeletal action but also in terms of blood flow. This hip and knee [right] will allow the blood to flow easily whereas the left hip and knee will not allow the blood to flow easily. As I bring the head down I’m stimulating the sympathetic ganglions of the nervous system in the back of the body. It increases the body temperature. Taking my right heel to the floor I prepare to side bend. But before I bend sideways I have to acknowledge that hip and shoulder movements, especially in extension, can cause spinal extension which is not a good thing to do when you’re doing side flexion. So, I lift the ribs to the left side away from the floor to lengthen my left lower back then I push the left sitting bone in the direction the navel is pointing. Then from there that firms the left side of my abdomen. The right side is still fairly soft. Then breathe into the abdomen, firm but calm. Take the right hand forward and up. So now the right side of my spine is longer than the left. I enhance that by pushing my right armpit towards the chest and past the ear and my left shoulder closer to the hip and closer to the floor. Then I traction the left median nerve and the left pericardial acupuncture meridian, and tractioning also the right lung meridian and some of the nerves in the brachial plexus in the right hand [extended]. If I do this [flexion movement] it’s more for the median nerve. Then come back to a lunge position. Stepping forward makes it a bit easier to stand safely. Then push the sitting bones forward. These exercises which include lengthening the front of the hip make it much easier in everyday life as to not having lower back pain. A lot of lower back pain relates to stiffness in this muscle [hip flexor]. By lengthening in this simple lunge, which we can make even much simpler than this, you can relieve a lot of lower back pain.


In the normal modern body (as opposed to the traditional natural body) in the ‘upward facing dog posture’, ‘downward facing dog posture’, the ‘push-up position’ (cataranga dandasana), and the standing forward bending positions, the hips (the coxafemoral joints) tend to move too freely into the forward bending (hip flexion and anterior pelvic tilt position). Therefore is useful to initially move the hips less (especially minimise hip flexion, which is so often over done) and focus on freeing the spine to relieve commonly congested regions such as the regions around the lower back (the lumbo-sacral junction) the middle back (the thoraco-lumbar junction) and the upper back (the cervico-thoracic junction).

You can see a demonstration of the the entire sequence by clicking here

You can see Part 18 of the instructional videos of the sequence by clicking here

If you want to learn more from YogaSynergy and its Directors Simon Borg-Olivier MScBAppSc(Physiotherapy) and Bianca Machliss BScBAppSc(Physiotherapy) you can enrol in one of the comprehensive and award winning Online courses at YogaSynergy called Yoga Fundamentals (a very practical course for anyone with an interest in yoga, exercise or health) and Applied Anatomy and Physiology of Yoga (a more technical course for teachers, therapists and experienced students). You can also do the more advanced version of these courses online at RMIT University as part of a Masters of Wellness Degree or as part of most bachelor degrees from participating Universities throughout the world.

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