Have you ever wondered why you cry after you do a hip opening class?
Or just feel everything more?
When I first started teaching yoga, I heard from my teachers that the hips are the emotional depot of the body. Why did they say that? An emotional storage place? I always feel tension in my upper back, not so much in my hips. That said, when I do a hip opening class, I feel more emotional. I do not cry but I feel emotions stronger, and I feel move loving.
It makes sense. Our hips are in the region of the sacral chakra, the second chakra. The sacral chakra is connected to our relationships with other people among other things. People are often the source of difficult emotions that we carry. People come to yoga to help relieve physical pain, to increase their flexibility or to get in better physical shape. Work on the emotional baggage often ends up being a part of your yoga practice as you become more in tune with your body and mind.
So, what is going on in the hips from a muscular standpoint? Most everyone that walks through the yoga studio doors has tight hip flexors. Our hip flexors, the iliopsoas, can become tight for many reasons. We are a society of “sitters” and excessive sitting can cause the muscles to become weaker and shorter. This tightness can manifest itself as back pain, poor posture, tightness and pain in the neck and even be a literal pain in the butt.
When I teach a hip opening class, my goals are to help relieve physical and emotional stress. Some of the poses I may include are:
· Bound angle. This pose can be done seated or reclined. When I am teaching to the emotional release, I teach this one reclined with a bolster under the upper back for a heart opener to increase the sense of release.
· Pigeon pose. I always include pigeon in a hip opening class. It is one of the deepest hip opening poses we practice in yoga and it can be physically and mentally challenging. You have many options for support or modifications in this pose. I find this pose to be a transformational pose. Pigeon pose can change my yoga practice and encourage me to go deeper.
· Crescent lunge. I often include a low crescent lunge in the beginning of the practice and then increase to a full crescent lunge. I love the stretch to the hip flexors. I watch my students as some love this pose and sink in deep, and others cringe and fight with this pose. Ultimately, this pose becomes a favorite for most students.
· Seated wide legged forward fold. This pose stretches the hamstrings, the inner thighs and the low back. The hip opening aspects of this pose can be overshadowed for students that have tight hamstrings. When this is a problem, sitting on a blanket or bending the knees over blocks can help to take the focus off the hamstrings and move it to the inner thighs.
· Warrior II. Warrior II is a wonderful pose that gets into the hips. I have never met a student that didn’t feel powerful in this pose. This pose builds strength in the outer hips, the inner thighs and the shoulders. It stretches the inner thighs as it builds strength.
Hip openers help us to release the hold of negativity and allow positive emotions to move to the front row. Yoga helps your work on connecting your body and your mind. Hip openers are one of the ways to make that connection.