Where is my Sacrum? Or, The Anatomical Yoga Terms Guide for the Perplexed
As a non native English speaker I once spent a whole Alignment Yoga Class wondering what my groins were and where could I have found them.
The teacher kept giving directions referring to the groins but I wasn't familiar with that term. Despite my curious nature, thankfully I was too shy to ask and saved myself the embarrassment.
However, I could have benefitted much more from the class if I did know what were the groins.
There are some popular anatomical terms used in Yoga classes that are less familiar. So, for all of you nonnative English speakers and for those who are, but still get confused, I represent this guide which you will hopefully find helpful:
Torso: The trunk - Your upper body not including your head, arms and hands. Basically the area of the shoulders, chest, ribs abdomen and back.
Pelvis: The area between your torso and your legs. Where your hips and buttocks are. You can feel its top front part by touching your hip bones - those two pointy bones at the sides of your lower abdomen, which you are probably able to see or feel (especially when lying down). But the pelvis region is much more than just the hips. Its complicated set of bones is protecting the reproductive organs and urinary tract, and it holds many important muscles such as the pelvic floor muscles.
Pubic Bone: A bony structure at the front bottom of the pelvis (above your vagina or penis). You are probably able to feel its tip (which is actually Cartlidge). Sice it is easy to find and feel, it is often used in Yoga classes to help you understand the position of your pelvis and the way it is tilted.
Groins : The area between the lower abdomen and the thighs on either side of the pubic bone. Where your genitals are, at the bottom of your pelvis, between your thighs.
Collarbones: Anatomically name: Clavicle. Those two horizontal bones at the top of the chest, below the neck, connecting to the shoulders. They are sometimes very visible depending on your body. You would often hear the term: "broaden your collarbones" in a yoga class, actually meaning to create more space between your collarbones by rotating your shoulders back and down towards the back.
Crown of Head: There is probably no crown on your head (unless you royal of course). This term is used to describe the top of your head. Imagine you did have a crown on your head - the part of your head inside the circle of the crown would be the crown of your head. Teachers use it in yoga to guide you to move your whole head together extending it away from the neck without tilting your chin.
Sacrum: The sacrum is a bony structure at the base of your spine (the bottom of your spine), right above the tailbone. To locate your sacrum, make a triangle by touching your left and right fingers, and left and right thumbs together behind you on your lower back. Place the tips of the index fingers on your tailbone. The space inside your triangle is your sacrum.
If you are practicing supported bridge pose with a block, (Salamba Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana), place the block below your sacrum.
Tailbone: Anatomically named: Coccyx. We once were creatures with tails. For some reason nature decided it was unuseful for us. Now all we are left is, is our tailbone :(,
What a pity, it would have been helpful for dealing with the flies...
The tailbone is the bottom part of the spine (below the sacrum). You can feel its pointy tip, if you move your finger down the spine all the way down between the top of your butt cheeks. It is referred to in yoga classes to help you navigate your pelvis in space.
Although you would hear many instruct "tuck your tailbone down" I would advise to avoid this. In the case that you are crunching your lower back - draw your lower ribs in towards your spine, it will make your core muscles work harder to hold your posture and "fix" the lower back crunching.
Sternum: The sternum or the chest bone is a located at the middle of your rib cage which protects your heart and other organs. you can feel it in the middle of your chest.
Please let me know in the comments below if there are any terms you were confused of when used in yoga classes which I left out.