Achieving structural balance between the femur and the acetabulum is important because the hip joint serves as the chief transfer point for body’s weight between the the upper and the lower body. When this natural flow is disturbed through poor pelvic positioning or awkward posture, the body responds by increasing muscular tension in order to keep the body upright. Unfortunately, when the body is regularly misaligned in this way, it can lead to chronic lower back pain, and increased tension in the hips and hamstrings.
On the other hand, learning how to create a more balanced positioning between the hip socket and leg bone will help you learn to shift the forces generated by your body’s weight into your skeletal structure which can in turn reduce the overall degree of tension you experience in your muscles while you practice. Within the context of a yoga class, knowing how to achieve this balance can help you improve your standing posture, reduce lower back tension in poses like the bridge or the wheel, and instantaneously deepen your forward folding range of motion.
Location: The femur line extends from the center of the knee to the center of the hip joint.
To position this line from a tadasana, follow these three steps:
1. Start with your feet placed hip distance wide. Inwardly rotate your leg bones by bringing your feet to a neutral (second toe forward) position. This will create a broadening sensation in the backs of the legs and help to create a softer sensation in the groin.
2. Imagine that you could draw the femur deeper into its socket by drawing muscular energy from the inner knee upward to the Sitz bone of the same leg. This action will result in a slight scooping of the Sitz bone on the same side. Pull the leg bone further into the body by drawing energy from the middle of the knee to the hip crease. Feel as though you were sucking your leg into your body as you do this. NB: This drawing inward of the femur deeper will create a “plugging in” type of sensation that is very similar to the motion created when you plug your lap-top into an electrical outlet.
3. To avoid any sense of jamming in the socket, extend energetically outward through the feet as the leg continues to “hug” into the socket. NB: If step #3 doesn’t make sense, think of this outward flowing energy as something similar to the action of water spraying out of a garden hose. As you hug your legs into their sockets, simultaneously imagine that your legs were hollow tubes and spray water out your feet.
Once you’ve learned to engage the femur line from tadasana, try the following practical exercises to see how integrating the femur line into a yoga practice can help you instantaneously deepen your range of motion:
1. Come to a standing position with your feet placed roughly hip distance apart.
2. Keeping your right leg extended straight ahead, lift it upward and into the air as high as you can. Take note of your general range of motion. Repeat on the left side.
3. Next, keep your knee bent as you draw it upward and into your chest. To create a more balanced relationship between the legbone and the hip socket, imagine that there were a clothes hanger under your kneecap. While you lift the kneecap higher with the clothes hanger, imagine the head of the femur dropping deeper into its socket.
4. One you’ve lifted your bent knee as high as you can, extend your leg again and take note of how much your range of motion has increased.