Summer has gotten me off track, folks. I’ve been on vacation (yes, I actually took a vacation this year!) in the mountains, where it was much cooler than the 150° heat and 180% relative humidity of Southwest Florida. Ok…that might be a slight exaggeration of the temperature… The dog days of summer have hit with a vengeance! High heat and humidity make it impossible very difficult to get people to sweat for a workout while they’re already sweating from just existing…and makes clients and students very lazy difficult to motivate. So instead of fighting a losing battle, I take this time of year to really work on getting my clients to work the fundamentals and key concepts of Pilates, rather than banging my head against the wall getting frustrated with low energy levels.
In my last blog post, I said I was going to discuss one of the critical connections necessary to doing The Hundred correctly — the three anchors of the pelvis — what I call The Golden Triangle. This connection, when understood in the body, helps with every single exercise because it acts as the anchor point for the legs and the back. With a strong pelvic connection there will be a strong back and strong legs, and both will be able to move more fluidly from this support.
Simply put, The Golden Triangle is the site in the pelvis of the connections between the upper inner thighs in the front of the body, the sitz bones in the back of the body, the inner thigh to sitz bone on either side under the body, and all of that up and into the lower belly, where the Scoop (another post I promise) collects it and pulls it up the body.
I know many Pilates schools cue the pelvic floor specifically, but I have found that many people have a hard time accessing their pelvic floors — and they end up doing a Kegel exercise or a glute squeeze butt clench rather than The Golden Triangle. The Golden Triangle is A LOT more than a Kegel or a glute squeeze, with A LOT less effort than either. I know…that doesn’t make sense. But hear me out…
This is how I teach students The Golden Triangle:
- With the thighs together, sit on a chair, floor, short box, whatever. Relax the quads.
- To access the inner thighs, sit up tall and begin to poke the upper inner thighs until you can feel them activate. This just gives a little proprioceptive aid to finding those hard to find inner thighs. (Maybe yours aren’t hard to find, but mine sure are…) As you are poking them, gently activate them…don’t squeeze and don’t involve the quads or the rest of the leg or butt. Once you can activate them, then activate and gently pull them in towards each other (this is 50% effort…not 100%…so think a whisper not a shout). Once you think you have it, stop the poking and try to access that connection without the assistance.
- To access the sitz bones connection, after finding your inner thighs, sit tall again with your legs together and sit on your hands. Put your sitz bones right in the middle of your hand like your hands are sitz bones cup holders. You’ll only be here a minute, so if it’s uncomfortable, just suck it up for a second bear with it for a minute. While maintaining the sitting up tall posture, gently think of sliding your sitz bones in towards each other. This is not going to be a squeeze…it is a slide…and very subtle. You will feel your glutes activate — not clench, and you will feel a slight drawing into the center. Once you feel you have access to this connection, take your hands away, and try to access it without the assistance.
- In the same position, after accessing the inner thighs towards each other, and the sitz bones towards each other, now connect each inner thigh with its respective sitz bone. Again this is very subtle, and it may be harder to get this than the other two…just keep practicing and remembering that it is really just the intention of the movement…it is not a HUGE movement.
- To connect that foundation of the inner thighs and sitz bones to the low belly, activate/draw the inner thighs together, the sitz bones together, the inner thigh and the sitz bones together, and then gently draw them all up towards the lower belly, above the pubic bone. In Yoga we call this Mula Bandha and Uddiyana Bandha. Again, in order to do this movement without creating too much activation of the other muscles of the area, the effort required is only 50%…not 100%! That would be way too much pull in the area, and would create tightness where there should be fluidity.
Once you think you have this connection, try focusing on accessing it and maintaining it in The Hundred. This connection will hold the weight of your legs in the pelvis without involving the lower back, and will help to create a foundation from which the Scoop will be able to maintain the forward flexion necessary for proper placement of the rib cage, shoulders, neck and head in The Hundred. It is the anchor point from which the legs reach out through the feet, and the body reaches out through the crown of the head. It creates opposition (another key concept that I will talk about in another post) and oppositional energy flow, which are the foundation of Powerhouse strength.
The Golden Triangle doesn’t just assist The Hundred. It assists all the exercises…and all movement. Try focusing on it in any rolling or unrolling exercise — like the Roll Up or Roll Over. Because it forms the attachment of the legs into the pelvis and into the Powerhouse, using The Golden Triangle will provide a strong foundation and counter-balance of the torso in The Roll Up allowing students who “can’t do” the Roll Up to suddenly understand how to use the abdominals continuously throughout the movement, and not rely so much on their hip flexors. In Roll Over, The Golden Triangle holds the weight of the legs as well as attaching the legs into the pelvis. It is also acting as a counter-balance in this exercise to bring the legs up over the body in reverse articulation without all of the weight of the legs landing in the lower back.
I could go on and on and explain each exercise with focus on The Golden Triangle, but I will leave you to experiment on your own and see if you can access that connection in every Pilates exercise. Believe me, it’s there. If you are a more visual person, and are a more auditory learner, I have a tutorial on The Golden Triangle on Pilates Anytime…here is the link
Happy Summer and Happy connecting!
PIlates Deconstructed — The Golden Triangle © Connie Borho 2015
Marjolein van Sonsbeek says
I am so very proud, honored and grateful to have you in our team Connie. You rock! This is yet another great post which will enrich my own workouts and teaching even more than it already did. I can’t wait to read, edit and upload your next post! Thank you very much!
Big hug, Marjolein
Deb Lemon says
This is FABULOUS! I learned the concept of “golden triangle” from you first hand and I practice trying to teach it to every client. This article will be the latest and greatest tool in my toolbox! Thank you!
Marjolein van Sonsbeek says
This is the link to the workshop about The Golden Triangle on PilatesAnytime with Connie. Have fun!
Ann Rein says
Hi Connie, I think what you call the ‘basement’ is what I’ve always called the ‘underguns’ – as opposed to the big guns, the glutes. Trying to keep people out of their quads is a constant challenge, thank you for adding another tool in my arsenal 🙂