Book Review: Understanding the Pelvis – A Functional Approach to Yoga

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Understanding the Pelvis: A Functional Approach to Yoga

by Eric Franklin and Alison Wesley, published by Human Kinetics.

Understanding the Pelvis is for movement practitioners looking to deepen their practice – specifically yogis, and with a focus on the pelvis.  The book delves into the many and varied whole-body movements required across 26 of the more common yoga asanas, however for the context of writing this review for a Pilates audience, there are many of the descriptions used in the book that can be directly applied to the movements within the Pilates Method.

This book expands further on the previous publications from Eric Franklin – in particular Pelvic Power, and Dynamic Alignment through Imagery, and overlays the application into the yoga context in a very digestible and simple to read format.  The book is a relatively short read, is well illustrated, and will serve as a good starting point for those wanting to work more efficiently to achieve more ease in movement.

The Franklin Method

The first section introduces the general Franklin Method approach to the pelvis, as a means to refer back to for the remainder of the book.  Detailing the sacrum bone, the two pelvic halves and basic reference to the muscles and ligaments.  There is also an explanation of the concept of how the bones of the body have evolved over time to rotate around their longitudinal axis to allow movement efficiency – a concept referred to as Bone Rhythms within the Franklin Method.  Obviously, as the pelvis doesn’t exist in isolation, there is also reference to how the bone rhythms are reflected throughout other regions of the body.

The second portion of the book then addresses a range of yoga asanas, and how the information from the first portion of the book applies.  The key heading structures used through this second section are:

  • The Sanskrit names of the asanas translated into English (which was interesting for a non-yogi nor Sanskrit reader);
  • How some common cues could be interpreted in a way that could detract from optimal functional movement;
  • How a range of suggested images might help the movements and poses.

Having worked with a number of yogis in the past who were wanting to deepen their practice, I have found there were opportunities for deeper anatomical and cuing understanding.  However this comment most certainly applies to almost every walk of life and any discipline. I have personally worked with many dancers, elite sporting athletes, and musical and theatre performers in my Pilates teaching career as I know many Pilates teachers have, and many of these clients have found imagery and mental rehearsal a highly effective training tool in general.

Franklin Method & The Feeling Body

Having been fortunate to have a long history of working with the Franklin Method, first studying with Eric Franklin in London in 2001, I am of the firm opinion that this work has profound impact any movement practice, because of the deep association with the feeling body, in particular somatic anatomy.  This whole body of work, from some of the earliest writers Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, Lulu Sweigard, and Irene Dowd (amongst others), is very much forwarded by the expanded use of the Franklin Method worldwide.

In summary, this book is definitely worth a read.  As with any book of this nature, and most certainly highlighted by the fact that the suggested actions in this book are highly kinaesthetic, the content needs to be practiced to really appreciate the value of the words included.

A particular recommendation is to pay close attention to the seemingly insignificant little arrows sprinkled across the illustrations.  Find these little arrows and, better still, act out their suggested movement directions, and your experience of the asanas will never be the same because of the new access you will find in your body.

Enjoy the read.

Bruce Hildebrand, PAA committee member