The first time I heard the word “plumbline” was at the beginning of my yoga teacher training at the Yoga Academy. It is about aligning yourself with gravity in a standing position, allowing the least possible stress on the body. It is achieved by stacking bone on bone, instead of relying on your muscles or joints to hold you up. In addition to make it easier to simply stand, it will benefit your knees, back or shoulders, depending on where you normally feel some tension when you are standing for some period of time. I have been practicing it for the past two years, and it has helped with release of tension in my knees and lower back – so big time worth it! Also, in my view, standing aligned with gravity changes the message you are sending out – you are standing and taking your place.
In order to stand in plumbline, you start by placing your feet hip-width apart, and parallel. Then, by shifting your weight through your heels, you will notice that the side of your knees gets into a vertical line with the big bone on the side of your ankles. From there, placing your hips in line with your knees, and the space in your spine behind your navel (L3-L4) in line with your hips – you might have to tip your lower ribs a bit down here. Moving further up, placing the tip of your shoulders in line with your hips, and then finally your ears in line with the tip of your shoulders. When standing in plumbline, aligned with gravity, if someone places pressure on both your shoulders, your body would still be standing firmly on the ground. If your are not aligned, your hips could easily push forward, or your shoulders back, and you would not be very stable in your standing position. Please note that standing in plumbline, might in the beginning feel very different, even awkward, from your habitual way of standing! The picture above shows the different points in the body that need to be aligned in order to stand in plumbline.
I was present at a workshop my teacher Simon Low was giving last year, where he described how standing in plumbline could feel like moving into a “new home”. Your “old home” is the way you have been standing most of the time since your teenage years. Your “new home” is when you are standing with gravity in mind, stacking bone on bone, intentionally caring for your joints. In the beginning, you do not feel completely at home in your “new home”. However, by practicing regularly, you get more and more familiar with it.
I have been told some great stories after teaching standing in plumbline. One person practicing this position over a few months said she now felt “safe” standing, and another said she did not want to get out of that position, it felt so effortless on her body. Shows that it is worth trying to move into your “new home”!