Hips don't lie - fun facts and 4 ways to open them
There's so much more to hips than we give credit for. In most yoga classes we look to increase our core strength, do a headstand or inversion or maybe some shoulder mobility but rarely do we realise how important the hips are in our day to day life and our practice. In yoga every yoga pose is a hip opener. Hip openers are known to increase the flexibility of the hips. because when hips are tight, it can lead to lower back pain. Hips are quite complex with around 17 muscles from the lumbar spine down to the knee. And there are 6 ways the femur bone/ thigh bone moves the pelvis and hips.
Flexion - towards the chest in child's pose
Extension - opposite action to above in locust
Adduction - moving thighs together in eagle pose
Abduction - thighs away from each other in prassaritta
Internal Rotation - front thighs moving towards each in hero pose
External Rotation - rolling thighs away from each other in butterfly legs
Not only do we have better circulation when our hips are open but we have better range of movement which helps the joints of the lower back, hips and legs come into better alignment. In deep hip openers like pigeon you may clench and hold on with the glutes and feel restricted. In order for this muscle to stretch, the pelvis and femur must move away from each other, which means that your pelvis must be un-tucked. The piriformis is quite deep in the hip and becomes an internal rotator when the hip is flexed. So therefor it suggests that the piriformis is not being stretched but more so the muscles on top.
Interestingly the psoas function is looking after the hip and its the primary connection between your torso and legs. Its attached from your spine through your pelvis and wraps around the body. The psoas muscle works like a hydraulic pump moving blood, oxygen and lymph throughout the cells of the body. So when you use breath in pigeon it can be incredibly powerful to your hips, body and nervous system.
We store all our emotions in our body. whether it’s good or bad, your body reacts to it.
It moves, it feels and it experiences.
Hips are known to store all our emotions especially stress, anger and frustrations. When we are challenged, our body responds by tightening or clenching. When the hips are open, it creates an energetic shift in the body and that's why we feel so good after a yoga practice.
Most hip openers can be challenging and releasing at the same time. It’s good to test yourself and find your edge but not to move beyond that to severe discomfort or pain. Always be kind to yourself and respect your limits physically and emotionally.
Why not try a few of these.