Do you love words? If you’ve followed these posts for some time, you must know that I love words.

A favourite word of mine is articulate. It relates to two things that are important in my life and particularly in yoga teaching: language and anatomy.

In relation to speaking, being able to articulate well means I can speak precisely to be understood. Or, being able to articulate an emotion, for instance, means I can express a feeling coherently and fluently.

As I was practising yoga today, I was thinking about articulating the spine in the pose Setubhandasana, in the sense of connecting my intelligence with my backbone. Mostly, when we flex or extend the spine, we move only certain vertebrae. Other parts show up as stiff, immobile or dull.

Setubhandasana

Setubhandasana

Try this simple exercise. Start the pose from the ground and lift your pelvis from the very tip of your tailbone, coming up a vertebrae at a time. If you’re honest about how you perform this movement, you’ll probably find you overlook a segment of the spinal column because your attention wanders. You get another chance to pay careful attention when you lower back down from the top of your shoulders to your coccyx.

Repeat the exercise three or four times and let your awareness include noticing the weight on your feet, which part of your buttocks you use, and how much you’re tensing your neck, chest muscles or groins.

Interestingly, the original Latin derivation of articulate means ‘dividing into joints’. However, the more you acquaint yourself with your spine in this way, the less you’ll be feel like you’re dividing the vertebrae and the more you’ll sense the spine as a fluid whole.