Journey into the Hips

We tend to hold our awareness up in the head, and not even the whole head: we hang out right behind the eyes. And yet, our nervous system extends through every last part of our bodies. We don’t normally pay our bodies much attention unless there’s something wrong with it. Yoga asks us to inhabit our bodies completely as physical extensions of ourselves.

One of the “darkest” areas of the body is the hips. It’s the biggest joint in the human bodyOur hips are built for stability (especially in comparison to our shoulders, which are designed for mobility). As a result, over time, strength turns into stiffness. If we don’t encourage mobility in the hips, we’re going to lose it to inertia.

Stress gets locked into our hips as well. What happens when we sense danger? Adrenaline gets sent into our limbs to prepare us for fight or flight (or freeze). Our muscles tense in readiness. If we don’t actually expel that tension, it gets stored in the tissues.

Opening hips takes patience and wisdom to discern the difference between intense sensation and pain. Every pose requires that we find our edge–a boundary that changes from day to day or even from moment to moment. We need to recognize the when the monkey mind says we can plow through the pain or when it goes into whine-mode over discomfort. Too much can degenerate the joint. Too little can lead to atrophy. As you explore the hips, feel free to move in and out of depth to test where your edge is.

The video leads us through a complete, all-levels hatha yoga class that focuses on and around the hips. Instead of shying away from or getting frustrated by hip tightness, this sequence brings some mobility to the tighter areas and strength to the weaker ones–all the while allowing us to appreciate where our bodies are right now. The sequence includes a supine to seated warm-up, table-top work, standing poses (Warrior 2 & Triangle), low lunge (lizard, pigeon), some fun with lotus (padmasana), then cooling our way back down to seated and finally shavasana.



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