It’s a strange concept to get the hang of when you first start Pilates and even when I started my teacher training it was only then that I really understood what neutral pelvis and neutral spine meant.
It’s one of the most important principles of Pilates and something that we set up before every exercise in Pilates to ensure that your body is in it’s correct alignment and the joints and muscles surrounding your spine are balanced.
What does it actually mean?
Your spine has three natural curves that form an s-shape. In a neutral spine position these three curves should be of equal size.
The spine sits on top of the pelvis so the hollow curve in your lower back (lumbar spine) is influenced by the position of your pelvis. If your pelvis is rotated forward then the lumbar spine would increase, equally if the pelvis was rotated backwards then the lumbar spine would flatten.
How to find neutral spine and pelvis?
The easiest way to find neutral is to lay on your back with your knees bent and feet hip width.
Use your finger tips to notice the space underneath your lower back. Try tilting your pelvis backwards so that the lower back imprints into the floor. Relax your pelvis back to wear you started. Now try tilting your pelvis slightly forwards so that the hollow under your lower back increases and ribcage flares.
Stop in between these two extremes so that there is a natural curve in the lower back. Your spine should not be flat against the floor or over arching, the ribs should be softly drawn down.
This is a really quick way to check if you have found neutral pelvis.
Either standing or laying on your back, place the heel of your hands onto your hips bones. Now point your finder tips down towards your pubic bone and thumbs under your belly button. If you’re in a neutral pelvis, your thumbs and fingertips should be level on the same plane.
Neutral position may feel a bit strange to begin with but try to become aware of whether you normally rotate the pelvis too far forward or back.
This exercise is also a really good way of getting the lower back to mobilise and release tension. Laying on your back, practice imprinting your spine into the mat and then returning to neutral pelvis