According to Ideokinesis pioneer Mabel Todd, “In order to have a minimum of stress, and therefore of strain, within the body, not only must the structure as a whole be in balanced relation with the outside forces, but each part must be in balance with every other part within the system” (Todd, 56).
When we don’t balance the three major weights of the skull, ribcage and pelvis, the body has no choice but to respond by increasing muscular tension in order to avoid toppling over. Many times, the increase in tension that arises due to poor postural positioning leads to chronic discomfort in the shoulders, back, or the neck. In many ways, this is similar to what happens when you try to balance a teeter totter: If you put a heavy weight on one side, the weight will need to be countered by another weight of similar size or additional force of another type in order to keep the structure in equilibrium.
Balancing the weight of the head, torso and pelvis on the central axis is the key to creating less tension in your yoga poses. This works because creating a neutral balance in the three blocks naturally shifts your body weight into the skeletal structure which in turn reduces the degree of tension the muscles need to exert in order to keep your body upright. As long as the weight is evenly balanced on either side, the body will maintain its horizontal positioning without any extra effort on your part at all.
From a yogic perspective balancing the weight of the three blocks will provide you with a quick and simple way to position purely vertical poses like tadasana. To experience this, try the following exercise:
1. Stand in tadasana with your feet positioned roughly hip distance wide.
2. Think inward to your central axis. Imagine that the central axis were like a fulcrum of a teeter totter.
3. Imagine that your pelvis were the lever of the teeter totter. Roll your tail under, and feel how the tailbone drops as the front of the pelvis rises up. Lift your bum like donald duck and feel how the sitting bones lift as the front of the pelvis drops toward the floor.
4. Continue on with this motion, but decrease the range of motion slightly every time. Find an end position where the teeter totter of the hips feels balanced on the fulcrum of the central axis.
5. Repeat the same process for the rib cage and the skull.
Master stacking the three blocks from Tadasana, and then try it in postures like the pile driver: