Early in my yoga teaching career a student approached me after class with tears cascading down her face. My natural instinct was concern. She wrapped her arms around me and thanked me for a wonderful experience. With ambiguous feelings and trepidation, she shared her feelings as to why she was crying. We had performed several asanas (poses) with a focus on hip opening. I smiled and revealed to her that what she was experiencing was healthy and normal. Hip opening in yoga is an existential gateway to releasing – and learning about – your emotions.
In yogic terms, there is no separation between mind, body and spirit. The three in harmony are a yoga axiom. In other words, if something is bothering you physically, emotionally or spiritually, it is likely to manifest in your body. Research tells us that virtually everyone stores negative energy in the body. One common area is the hips and/or pelvic girdle. You may be thinking ‘what a peculiar circumstance.’ However, opening the hips will release toxic energy as well as aid in proper alignment, releasing lower back tension, and improving circulation in your legs.
The hip ball and socket is the largest joint in the human body. Yoga philosophy teaches that drawing our breath (prana) life force into the hip area can aid in releasing pent-up emotions and stress. In class, I often refer to this region as our “junk drawer.” It is one of the areas within our bodies we store and deposit negativity – similar to a kitchen or bedroom junk drawer where we store things away to deal with later.
There are a myriad of reasons why we bind in our hips. Our professional lives may subject us to sitting or standing all day. Plus, if you participate in hiking, biking, walking or running, it is likely you have tight hip flexors. All positions are weight bearing onto the pelvis. Our hips are exceptionally important and complex, and fortunately, offer us a wide range of motion. According to Blandine Calais-Germain, author of Anatomy of Movement, there are eight directions in which the hips are mobile: flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, medial rotation, lateral rotation, anteversion and retroversion.
You can find great relief for your tight hips and lower back by fully engaging yourself in yoga. If yoga is a new endeavor for you, it is wise to seek a professional. Being conscious of our movement is important, and learning proper form and technique is essential for a beneficial yoga practice. Yoga is an elixir for the joints. Working the largest ball and socket joint will enable your entire body to feel rejuvenated. When our hamstrings are tight it leads to lower back pain hence tight hips. Never push yourself beyond your limits. You must know when to stop to preclude injury.
It is never too late to begin working on your hips and exercising an emotional release. You will be amazed how your hips can set you free!
Bronwyn Ison is the owner of Evolve Yoga in La Quinta and can be reached at (760) 564-YOGA. www.e-volveyoga.com