Many people experience the common problem of stiff and tight hips. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time or doing activities and sports that include running, cycling and jumping can stiffen the front hip flexors and make the outer hips tight. However, having tight hips is not just related to physical tension. Sharni Quinn explains.
Have you ever been to a hip-opening yoga class and wondered why you were filled with strange emotions either during or after the session? Your hips don’t lie; however, they do store and bury emotions. As we know, yoga is not just a physical practice but also unifies our body, mind and soul and encourages us to reach Samadi or bliss. It is quite incredible how our stress, fears and emotional traumas – our inner and outer experiences of everyday life – affect our physical body in the form of tightness, tension and various imbalances. Our hips are emotionally charged and the physical place in our body where we hang on to our attachments, and store our vulnerabilities and traumas (large and small).
Sometimes we rush through life, pretending that life is ok and all the while storing up more and more negative emotions in our body. We are too busy to stop and process what we are going through and because of this we don’t give ourselves the space, or permission, to actually feel and deal with our emotions. When life seems scary or difficult, this can show up as tightness in the hips because aside from our hips supporting us physically they are also connected with the two base Chakras and so are associated with your feeling safe and supported in the world.
FEAR OF THE PAST AND FUTURE
Often tight hips relate to not wanting to move forward or not letting go of the past. You may fear not living up to expectations (your own or those of others) or feel you must live a life that you ‘should’ be living.
When the second Chakra is blocked, it hinders our ability to let go and let life flow. If you are suffering from tight hips you may have not even considered that emotional worries or energy blockages may be causing the tension or pain. Feeling fear of moving forward in life, in your relationships, in your career, or a fear of making major decisions, feeling a lack of physical or emotional support, the inability to let go of the past or hanging on to the past hurts, or feeling anxious and insecure, all manifests as pain in your body – often settling in the hips. Our body holds the secrets of what is really going on in our lives. Recognising this and acknowledging it is the first step to healing.
How to release, let go and open your hips
By doing yoga we tap into the practice of letting go and non-attachment. Yoga poses are one path to blissful contentment, working to bring us closer by focusing our minds and releasing any emotional or inner tension in our bodies. On our yoga mat we can go deep inside ourselves to the places where we can feel and heal our emotions. Yes, it is a scary prospect, however the more you trust the process, the more you can relax completely into the comfort of your hips and the more you can release stored up negative energy and emotions. Feeling emotional pain is uncomfortable, however once we face the pain, once we breathe and work through the process, once we let our emotions flow – then we will feel free.
Just know that you are not alone. Many people feel a surge of emotions in certain yoga postures and may even start crying. When a breakthrough occurs, it may be difficult to cope with, but it is just your body releasing negative emotions. It is natural and the best thing you can do is just to breathe through it, relax into the posture and be kind to yourself in the process. Listen to your body and discover where it may need to untie an emotional knot. You will feel much better after letting it go that if you continue suppressing it.
If you feel you need more than just yoga to heal emotional wounds then perhaps look for an Emotional Freedom Technique practitioner or Kinesiologist who can support you through the process.
HIP OPENING YOGA POSES:
Butterfly Pose – Baddha konasana
When sitting on the floor, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet together. Holding your feet draw them close towards your body. Allow your knees to gently work their way towards the floor. Sit up straight, relax your shoulders and jaw, take a few breaths. Take a deep breath in, lengthen through your spine and then gently work your body forwards towards your legs and the floor, leading with your heart. Keep your back straight. Hold here for a few more breaths.
Deep low lunge – Anjaneyasana
From Downward-facing Dog Pose, take a deep breath in and as you exhale, step your right foot forward between your hands. Make sure that your right knee is over the heel and not pushing forward. Bring your left knee to the floor and untuck your toes. In you need to, gently place your left knee back until you feel a comfortable stretch in the left front thigh and hip flexor. Take a deep breath in and lift your body upright, bringing your arms up to the sky alongside your ears. Hold for a few deep breaths. When you are ready to come out, on your next exhale, bring your body back towards the right thigh and place your fingertips on the floor on either side of your foot. Tuck your back toes and lift your left knee and step back into Downward-Facing-Dog. Repeat again with the other leg.
Pigeon Pose – Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Be sure to warm up beforehand with other hip-opening poses. From Downward-Facing-Dog Pose bring your right knee between your hands, placing your right ankle near your left wrist. Extend your left leg behind you so your kneecap and the top of your foot rest on the floor. Press through your fingertips as you lift your chest away from your thigh. Lengthen the front of your body. Work on squaring your hips and the front side of your body to the front of your mat. Flex your front foot to protect that knee. After a few breaths, if this feels good, then lengthen your body towards the floor, over that bent leg and stretch your arms out in front of you. To release the pose, lift your body up and back on to your fingertips, tuck your toes back, lift your knee off the mat, and then press yourself back into Downward-Facing-Dog. Repeat again with the other leg.
The full variation of the pose, in which you touch your back toes to your head, is an intense back-bend suitable for advanced practitioners only.
EMOTIONS ARE HEALTHY
Remember that feeling our emotions is healthy. Doing hip-opening yoga postures can be hard, could possibly make you cry, but most importantly, they allow you to work through your emotions and move forward in your life. They give you the opportunity to heal and create space to open up to new beginnings, and positive steps going forward. Listen to your body, breathe and work through the feelings. It could be life changing!