At the start of each class, I ask students if there is a pose or body part that they would like to work on. One of the most frequent requests is for hip openers. It’s in the top 10 along with neck and shoulders. Hmmm…all places we commonly carry stress.
The anatomy of the hip is complicated to say the least and there is a spectrum of physical reasons our hips tighten. The desk jockey’s inactivity and the runner’s repetitive muscle contractions are just a couple.
There are also emotional reasons that cause the hips to feel closed off. In yoga, the pelvis is often referred to as the body’s ‘junk drawer’. It’s the perfect analogy. In it, we stuff experiences and emotions that we don’t know what else to do with. From an energetic anatomy perspective, the pelvis contains our first and second chakras, energy centers. The first chakra, muladhara, is located at the perineum and is associated with our root survival needs for nourishment and security. The second, svadhisthana, is just a couple of inches above muladhara and is associated with our sexuality and how we communicate with others. You can probably think of your own ‘junk’ related to these chakras that you have stashed in here.
I am picturing the contents of my actual junk drawer, which is more of a junk bin. It is full of computer cables, extension cords and keys that unlock doors no longer in my life. Now, I’m a huge proponent of having a place for everything and putting everything in its place, but even I have stuff I don’t know what to do with. Like my emotional baggage, these things are a ragtag bunch that will stay with me until I figure out how to deal with them. While all this ‘junk’ is accumulating, it is throwing off the balance in my first two chakras.
Imbalanced chakras are associated with all kinds of problems and disease. An imbalance in muladhara chakra can cause intestinal issues, loss of prosperity, restlessness and fear. An imbalance in svadhisthana chakra can result in emotional withdrawal, menstrual problems, pelvic pain. So many potential issues – and this is just the short list.
The good news is that, whether your hip issues are physically or emotionally rooted or a combination of both, they can be addressed with yoga hip openers. I’ve put together a targeted class that emphasizes stretching the muscles of the hip especially iliopsoas, quadriceps, piriformis and glutes.
Click through to see this and other sequences. 75-minute Intermediate Hip Opening Yoga Class Sequence. Regularly practice this sequence to say goodbye to your pelvic junk drawer.*
*If you are short on time, you can abbreviate the practice by stopping at any [repeat] followed by Svasana.