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Chair pose- "to tuck or not to tuck"

Often times in chair pose, I hear instructors telling students to “tuck your tailbone”. I do not agree with this cuing. While I can appreciate that their ultimate goal is to create length in the lower back, it is confusing and can create strain in the lower back.

Chair pose is a form of lower back extension, meaning that the lower back is arching or extending backward. In the saggital plane, the lower back can move into extension (curving backward) or into flexion (rounding forward).


Chair pose is a form of back extension. Imagine the character in extension bending their knees. They would come into chair pose.


Extension of the lower back causes the muscles in the lower back to contract, while flexion of the lower back causes the muscles in the lower back to stretch.

It is proper to feel the lower back contracting and working in chair pose, however if the lower back over arches or extends, you may feel a pinch or strain in the lower back. Well meaning instructors try to correct their students by telling them to “tuck their tailbone” to correct over arching.

However, by tucking your tailbone you are asking the lower spine to do too many things at once. It is naturally and correctly arched in extension, but by “tucking”, you are asking it to flex or round. You can see the confusion in the body when a student tries to accomplish this! The body and hips tend to shift and wiggle to find a comfortable position. It looks awkward!

This first picture is correct as it shows the entire spine in extension. Notice the subtle curve in the lower back, the hips are pressing back, the chest lifts, and the middle back is lenghthening.


In this next picture, the tailbone is tucked. As a result, the middle back shortens and the shoulders round up towards the ear, congesting the neck and shoulders. Tucking the tailbone can also put undo strain on the discs of the lumbar spine, by loading the spine and can strain the lower back muscles.


Instead, the better cues for a student who is over-arching their lumbar spine or feeling a pinch or strain is to “press the sit bones back and lean the chest forward”, or to “ aim the pubic bone in between the sitting bones”.

Think about effecting the curve in the lower back by focusing your cues on the movement of the upper spine and the pelvis. Play with your own cues and feel for yourself! When you encourage movement of the upper spine, such as “lifting the chest” while you “press the sit bones back”, the lower back settles into a comfortable position as a result.

I welcome your feedback!!!

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