Pelvic Imbalance / Tight Psoas

Q: i have a student whose IT band on her leg hip/leg only is so tight she can't do a lot of asanas in class. it's a sciatica problem. i've told her she needs to gently stretch it every day, and she's taklingcal/mag. is there anything else i can do for her? she's overweight and 5'1" and 59.

A: The best place to start when rehabilitating any type of psoas imbalance as well areas of fascia tightness and inflammation in area of the hip and knee joints is by focusing on the pelvis. Working on pelvic balance will give clarity to what needs to happen in order to heal, and in working on balancing the pelvis, very often corollary issues clear up as well. Working the pelvis with the following exercises is also 100% safe!

Here is a beginning exercise to get some awareness of pelvic balance:

1. Start on your back with feet flat and knees bent. Push your sitting bones away so they are not tucked or overly arched. Just as they would be when you are sitting properly in a chair, with your navel engaged. Have weight on both feet as if you are standing on them. Line up your inner ankle bones and inner knees. Feel the back of your pelvis (the pelvic plates) on the floor and see that there is equal weight on both sides. Do small circles on the back of the pelvis thinking of it like the face of the clock and being sure to hit 1 o'clock, 2 o'clock etc.... go clockwise and counter clockwise. Note if there is any difference on one side or the other.

1a .You can also take this configuration onto your side and sit as if you are in a chair - sitting bones fanning out, navel lifting up. Support yourself with the arm on the floor lifted above you on the floor and the opposite hand in front of your hip. Again, aligning your inner ankles and inner knees. Do this on the other side.

2. Lie on your stomach and rest your forehead on your hands. Bend the knees and press the hip bones into the floor. Feel the triangle of the hip bones and pubic bone against the floor. Raise and lower your legs to 90 bent angle to the floor and back at least 8 times slowly. Always align the inner ankle bones, and inner knees.

3. Still on your stomach, tuck your toes under. Try to get all 10 toes on the floor. Keep feeling the triangle on the pelvis making contact as you straighten the knees to the count of 8 and soften the knees to the count of 8. (This is demonstrated in the Posture Primer our Yoga for Beginners & Beyond: Stretch, Strengthen, & Be Stress Free).

The first exercise is a good one for sensing where imbalances may be. It is also a good position from which to begin navel work. The second two exercises will help strengthen and coordinate the muscle groups surrounding the pelvis and also help to strengthen the knees.

In cases such as you describe, it is always best to work from the inside out and outside in at the same time. Ultimately, it is very important to work on the emotional level as well. It's been said that the hips relate to moving forward in life and the right and left knee relate to father/mother issues, etc. We recommend the So Darshan Chakra Kriya Meditation (under "S," on the A-Z Health Archive on