Hip openers, you either love them or hate them. Why are they so popular and most importantly, so effective?
Hip openers are a series of postures designed to help stretch different muscles surrounding the pelvic and hip area. We say we "open the hip" because during these asanas or postures, we tend to externally rotate the hip, hence the opening. Examples of hip openers include warrior II, but also deeper poses such as half pigeon or lizard pose.
As much as I'd love to give you an anatomy class right now (do check this post for more anatomy geekiness), I'm here to talk about the amazing benefits of mindfully using hip openers in your yoga practice. Now, why do I say mindfully? Well, during hip openers we might confuse going deeper with going too far, potentially injuring our joints or muscles. So, like with any practice, please be very mindful (and loving) of your body and its boundaries.
Why are hip openers so yummy??? And so evil at the same time???
If you work in an office environment, where you get to sit a lot and on top of that you cross your legs a lot, like me, then you might love hip openers. They give you a wonderful feeling of release by lengthening muscles that are normally rather tight as a result of our daily habits. And that is precisely why they can be so challenging and cause so much frustration.
However, once you fully surrender and release into the pose, using helpful tools such as your breath or sound (roaring does wonders!), you might find the yumminess in all of this.
Hip openers release your mind from negative emotions
You've probably heard me or other teachers mention during hip openers that a certain release of emotions might occur. Although there is no scientific proof of that yet, thousands if not millions of yogis report that after doing hip openers, emotions come out spontaneously that they would normally not show. It could be anger, it could be frustration, it could be sadness, or it could just be an expanding sensation of release. You could also not feel anything, and that is ok, too. However, if you do experience any kind of emotion while practicing these asanas, it is important that you understand that it is normal and there is nothing wrong or shameful about it.
Our bodies store negative experiences
In yogic philosophy, the body, mind and spirit are one. There is no separation and what happens to one part of us reflects in the rest of ourselves. If you experienced some some sort of emotional turmoil at some point in your life, it is highly likely that your body reacted in some way. A very easy example is the nausea you experience if you're very nervous or scared. In the same manner, negative emotions tend to park on your hip area, so when we "open" them, we release these tensions. I do have to say that opening hips is not the only way negative emotions are released. This can actually happen at any point during your asana practice.
Tuning into our body to release our mind
With that said:
I invite you to tune into your hips, your chest, your belly, all of your body. To get comfortable with the uncomfortable feelings. It is in this process of releasing and letting go that our minds become clearer and freer, happier.