Yoga Tune Up® Blog

Join The De-Rotation Play Station!

Daily life has a way of getting us out of whack. No matter how balanced we try to be in our bodies, we’re almost always favoring one side or another. I’m going to tell you about an exercise I began to teach and practice when I noticed huge muscular imbalances during rotation in my own body and in my clients’ bodies. It is a variation of a Yoga Tune Up® exercise called Revolved Abdominal Pose. But first, I’ll tell you how I knew I needed to get to the bottom of the problem: I was having lower back pain only on the right side, and every time I would get out of the driver’s side of the car, my SI joint would click.

I began to think more about my daily habits. For example, every time I backed out of the driveway or a parking spot, I did an extreme rotation of my spine to the right. I even caught myself soaping up my left butt cheek with my right hand by rotating ALL the way around to the right to do it!

Pain was of course my first wake up call. Other wake up calls occurred during my private Pilates sessions with June Chiang. Doing the four point kneeling exercise where you lift one leg up was simple and super easy for me on one side—but when I lifted the other leg, it was an utter failure resulting in a lateral ribcage and hip deviation faults. Yikes. This instability pattern repeated in a supine bridge with a one leg lift. When I lifted one foot, everything was hunky dory, but when I lifted the other foot, the opposite ilium bone would drop.

Then I began to think about the bigger picture. Sitting on the couch, I ALWAYS slumped to the left with my elbow on a bunch of pillows to read my emails on my laptop. When I dined alone, I ALWAYS placed my iPhone on the right side of my plate to scroll through my Facebook feed. And the list goes on…

The good news is that, to feel better, I don’t have to take a pill or have surgery. I am empowered to be aware of my alignment during my daily activities. I continue taking my Pilates private sessions because we all need an extra set of eyeballs on us when we move to see what we’re blind to.

The moral of this story is that exercise can do a lot—but it can’t do everything. Exercise alone wouldn’t have changed my pain. I had to practice the exercises AND change my daily habits to stop the SI joint clicking and low back pain. I’m happy to tell you that it worked, but if I fall back into my old habits of rotating to the right all day long, and/or not practicing these corrective exercises, the pain returns. By paying attention to both, my body is now better-equipped to deal with tasks like putting dishes in the dishwasher, donning a jacket, or dragging a roller bag through the airport.

I was inspired to deconstruct this Yoga Tune Up® pose because I knew that my obliques, spinal rotator muscles, and iliopsoas on the left side were extremely weak. I just needed a few modifications to make these muscles work harder. By changing the two things below, I could no longer cheat and use my superficial global mobilizer muscles in this exercise:

1) I limited the range of motion in de-rotation by using the blocks to bring the ground up higher.

2) I took the arms out of the equation by holding them up in the air.

Now I could no longer use my arms to assist in de-rotation and bypass the deep spinal muscles and local stabilizers I was supposed to use in this exercise.  Furthermore, another wonderful thing happened that was the icing on the cupcake: when I did more repetitions on the weaker side, the compulsion toward incessant right side rotation in my daily life decreased. What used to be a “dull and sleepy” area of my body, was now illuminated! Proprioception of my left torso  profoundly increased and the pain in my right SI Joint decreased.

Are you ready to find and eliminate your body blind spots? Try my modified version of this YTU pose – I’ll show you how on Friday!

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About This Author

E-RYT 500, is an Integrated Yoga Tune Up® teacher trainer, STOTT PILATES® certified instructor, and a graduate of YOGAspirit Studio's 500-Hour Yoga Therapy Program. While at Brown University, Trina took a Kripalu yoga class which ignited her passion for the practice. She teaches weekly Yoga Tune Up® and Pilates Tune Up™ classes throughout Los Angeles, and trains yoga teachers in anatomy and in Yoga Tune Up® across the country. She is an Rx Series teacher trainer for Equinox, is on the faculty of Kripalu, one of the nation's premiere yoga institutions, and is a regular presenter at yoga and fitness conferences such as ECA, Yoga Alliance, SYTAR and many others. Trina's teaching fosters body cognition and self-discovery, firmly grounded in anatomical awareness. She builds bridges between the mystical and the pragmatic, and specializes in helping others to access their body’s tissues and their heart’s purpose.

16 Responses to “Join The De-Rotation Play Station!”

  1. Lorraine says:

    I am with you Trina, this could be me you are talking about. I even notice it in my waist as one side is shorter and in using my hands, standing and sitting. Bringing awareness it the first step, now I need to work on reversing my old habit by strengthen my weak side and correcting my posture.

  2. Ann F says:

    This is a great reminder how we are creatures of habit. I notice that i am much more sorer on the right side it seems. I am right side dominant and tend to lift/push/pull on the right. even when i work out, since i am stronger on my right side, i favor more reps on that side. Now i will make it a point to focus on the other side. especially in my yoga poses~~ more awareness on the left side. Thank you.

  3. Angela says:

    Hi Trina,

    Thanks for this great tip and how to video. I have become more aware of muscle imbalances and thinking through my daily routine as well has opened my eyes to where I over do it and am starting to ignore the opposite side and/or direction in motion.


  4. Carlos Savetman says:

    Thanks Trina for the eye opening read! I recognize so many of those same habits and tendencies in my own life. It’s a good reminder that it’s not always a single incident that can bring about pain or injury, but rather the sum total of our daily habits and routines. Just shows how simply bringing some increased awareness to our lives and bodies can help return us back into a state of balance.


  5. Victoria Ryder-Burbidge says:

    Hey Trina, I actually read this post in April and it definitely connected with me. In the past few months, I too have been become increasing and painfully aware of my SI joint and all the nerves radiating from it. Focusing on a straight spine and noticing any and all rotation has become essential. What I found amazing was how quickly I fatigued when maintaining neutral alignment while doing things like watching t.v. or chatting in the supermarket aisle. Clearing the pain I am feeling is a result of muscle imbalances and questionable alignment. After years of ignoring or ‘pushing through’ the pain, I am gratefully and gradually relearning how to move safely through space with more conscious movement.

  6. Elise Gibney says:

    Thanks Trina! I too often rely on exercise too heavily instead of also looking at the cumulative effects of the small movement choices I make throughout the day. I love the idea of being empowered to create real change via awareness of daily alignment. This is something I’ve been working on in my own life and have been trying to incorporate into my classes. I also find your examples so helpful – all small, mundane movements that add up to big effects! This post really encapsulates the idea that every movement is an opportunity for positive change and healing :)

  7. Donna Clark says:

    Incredible. I definitely found your modification a total challenge bringing my legs from right back to center and the other side a piece o cake. Always having had right left hip imbalances since a herniated disc in my early 20s this pose has helped to illuminate what’s truly weak. I have been cheating my way through the regular ones with my upper body all this time. Thanks a bundle. Next week – my students are in for a great surprise.

  8. Kristin says:

    Thanks Trine for this article as a great reminder to watch your habits as they are a tell tale sign. I often wonder what habits I am not seeing that are playing into my own imbalances.

  9. Shelley says:

    How timely. I’ve spent hours scouring the net investigating the pain I experience near my left SI joint. Finally came to realize I can mimic the pain with an external rotation of my left leg when I’m in a modified backbend lying down with a prop (rolled blanket)
    Under my ribcage. Itoo have age old habits that curl my torso in one direction. I can trace this habits from the feet up.
    It is so exciting to me to be able to break this age old pain down! Know the psoas is a major player, but I am anxious to read about your rx. I knowthis will take time, but I wonder how many unnecessary back surgeries have been done with no positive results. Thanks for the illumination!

  10. katie says:

    My asymmetries got so bad that I ended up getting injured and poor physical therapy made it worse. YTU has been tremendously helpful in my journey back to better function and health. Look forward to your next blog.

  11. werner says:

    so true ..about our positions in daily life can have many long term benefits or dysfunction
    looking forward to see the video

  12. Trina says:

    Hi Marsha,
    I am so glad that you enjoyed this article. Part 2 of this blog comes out tomorrow with a video of me doing this exercise and step by step written instructions. Check back so you can read it and watch!

  13. Marsha L. says:

    Great article! I definitely favor my right side, which I believe has led me to have three injuries on my left side in the past year. My most recent injury was overuse of my back muscles, so my lower back gave out for an entire month. Last month, I took the YTU Integrated Embodied Anatomy class, and I gained a knowledge of proprioception, and have become more aware of my habits. I always carried my 15 lb purse (maybe I’m exaggerating) on my right shoulder. I always rolled over to my right side in fetal position after savasana. And taking notice of these couple of things, I have made those adjustments to carry my purse on my left, or carry two bags on each shoulder, AND I roll over to my left side after savasana. I’m hoping these tiny daily changes will allow me to strengthen and balance my right side out. I wish I could see what your modified YTU pose looks like so I can try it out!

  14. Chad says:

    I am guilty of a similar position while reading: head propped up on my left hand with a significant lateral curve in my spine. It’s comfortable until I realize what I’m doing to myself. Currently I am taking care of someone post-surgery and monitoring what they are doing to compensate so I can intelligently help them now, and after they heal. The element of unbalanced rotation is relevant to this healing. Thanks for posting and sparking my creative thoughts.

  15. nicole says:

    These are great regressions to progression and sometimes even more challenging. I teach them in almost every class :)

  16. Helen McAvoy says:

    Loved this idea….and new concept to dig deeper into the architecture ! I’m looking forward to doing it Friday!.

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Jill Miller, Creator of Yoga Tune Up®

After studying yoga, movement, and the human body for over twenty years, I created Yoga Tune Up® as a simple way to restore my body and mind, keeping me balanced and free of pain. Using a specific and unique set of poses, movements and self massage tools, you too can LIVE BETTER IN YOUR BODY WITH YOGA TUNE UP®.


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