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  1. Talking about the advanced piriformis exercise, I think what most anatomists don't get is that the medial attachment of p. extends from the top to the bottom of the midline of the sacrum, so spanning 2+ inches, and can be considered one side of a triangle; the greater trochanter attachment, by comparison, can be considered a 'point', in thinking about this in terms of complex, 3D movement. To get the leg into the starting position requires both flexion and external rotation of the femur in the hip joint, I believe. What makes the real difference between this p. exercise and all others is that the sacrum is moved ~90 degrees (if you can do it completely, as in lie on your front foot), in comparison to the p. exercises where the femur is moved across the body to the opposite shoulder, because in this latter movement, the 'point' attachment pulls more or less evenly on the whole muscle. In the advanced movement, in comparison, the upper fibres of p. are stretched more than the lower fibres (because WRT to the greater trochanter point, the top part of the sacrum moves so much further than the bottom part in the exercise's movement), so that the shortening that external rotation necessitates in the first instance is completely overcome by the whole movement, and the movement becomes a serious stretch (as everyone who has tried the movement knows!). And (this is a separate important part) anyone with p. syndrome has the muscle pierced by one or more nerves—and it is this differential stretching effect between the upper fibres and the lower fibres that provides the tangible relief to this problem, I believe. Of course, this is a massive simplification and does not take any possible fascial adhesions into account, but it does provide a new way of considering from which process the indisputable therapeutic effects arise. And for all exercises requiring movement of the pelvis WRT the femurs (sitting for meditation, sitting cross legged, tailor pose) where hamstring and adductor tension are not a major limitation to moving the pelvis (because the knees are bent), any resistance to movement of the pelvis is compensated by lumbar flexion. This is because p. is limiting the pelvis movement through the identical mechanism (upper fibres will not allow anterior pelvis tilt. I see this on every retreat: beginners who simply can't sit upright. And this effect is compounded by tight hamstrings and adductors when sitting in the starting position of the pancake and the pike—and we see this in all the beginner's photographs posted here—again (though with additional limiting factors) they cannot sit upright. I feel that sieging p. and experiencing pelvic movement (as Olivia has been suggesting for years) is a fundamental part of the acquisition of pike and pancake, through the experience of the movement of the pelvis in its least restricted position. Once this has been felt, the same movement can be more easily acquired in the more difficult movements.
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