Some people love them, others detest them with a fiery passion. And yet hip-opening is such a strong focus of yoga practice that there is simply no escape… put up, or shut up. Whether we are exhaling into a deep warrior two, wobbling around in utthita hasta padangusthasana or ‘relaxing’ in reclining bound angle pose those hips are being pushed open and unlocking a lot of emotions as they go. Here are just four answers to the age-old question, “Why do we practice hip-openers?”
Hip-Openers Fight Modern Life
Whether we spend most of our time sitting down in an office chair or driving around on the motorway, our hips are often resting closed. With this comes tightness, discomfort, a lack of lubrication to the joints and a big old bunch of mobility issues that will come back to bite us in the ass in later years (if they have not already!) Hip-opening yoga postures can help to prevent and reduce these sorts of issues and boost the overall health of the practitioner.
Hip-Openers Challenge Our Patience and Resistance
Have you ever sat in nearly-pigeon and begged to high heavens in your mind for it to end? We have. But redirecting the thoughts to the breath rather than the seconds ticking by, rewiring the brain to feel the positives of literally splitting through the middle and concentrating on staying open through other areas of the body in the same instance, such as the heart, allows us to reach the end of the posture without the need to collapse in a heap! If we can be patient with a hip-opener, it is likely we can carry that patience off into other areas of our lives with ease.
Hip-Openers Unlock Emotions and Creativity
Now, we are not saying that these emotions will be positive… It is not rare to feel frustrated or angry at yourself or your teacher when frog pose is announced. It is not unusual to suddenly want to cry in parivrtta janusirsasana. It is completely natural to want to giggle in utthita upavista konasana. This is what yoga is all about, removing emotional obstacles and blockages, greeting ourselves in a way that we haven’t before. And oftentimes with unlocking emotions, comes a wave of creativity as new parts of the mind are available to us.
Hip-Openers Feel Good When You Get Them Right
Whether you have send six months trying to get comfortable in easy pose or five years heading towards hanumanasana when you finally strike that pose, with strong and steady breaths, staying consistently open through the heart, relaxed through the shoulders, tall through spine and strong through the core… damn it feels good!
As with most things in life, hip-openers need consistency, dedication and commitment. You get out whatever you put in, practice makes perfect, and lots of other frustrating clichés! So don’t shy away from class because you heard a rumour it was hip-opening week, spend a little while sitting in bound angle before bed, and rock your warrior two whenever you can… your hips deserve it.
What are your favourite hip-opening postures in yoga and which are your least favourite? What makes you love or hate them? Do you have any tips for finding more comfort and getting the most out of these poses?
Love and light