There are some common misconceptions about yoga. It’s not about being bendy or how you look, however only you can know what your ultimate aim is right now, and I respect that.
In this post I will look at hips and stiffness. These are topics that many people relate to. We might get stiff while sitting to write or to carry out certain tasks. I am self-employed, so I move when I please. For people who work for others it can be difficult to have to sit still for long periods.
For anyone who hopes to limber up, yes, flexibility can improve over time with yoga yoga. However, it is worth remembering that no matter how often you practice, your bone stucture will limit how much your hips can move.
Your skeleton is not exactly the same as any one else’s, and the design of your body will influence how “open” your hips feel.
THE HIP JOINT
When the femur (thigh bone) meets other bones at the hip joint, compression occurs. When bone meets bone, no more movement is possible and you can’t go any further in that direction.
Forcing the hips can easily result in an injury. Researchers have found that injuries are much more likely to occur when people push into the full version of a pose (going to their absolute limits), rather than choosing a modified, or ‘easier’, version.
Everyone looks different and variations are offered to honour this fact. We are similar, but we all have a unique body with our own needs.
Stiffness in the hips is common and it can happens at any age, from people in their 20s (even sporty types) to older adults.
Pushing to extremes is never a good idea in yoga or anything else. One of the biggest dangers to our hips comes from sitting a lot, as it results in less mobility and more pain. Dormant or tight hip muscles can cause pain in the back, hips, and legs. In turn, pain can restrict everyday daily activities like walking and climbing stairs.
Tight hips can also lead to poor posture, which is associated with depression, tiredness and stress. It follows that better mobility can result in better mental health.
We are designed to move, and the good news is that using our body to its full potential (with care) can prevent ailments, or at least delay them in some cases.
When your body is functioning as it was meant to, you are more centred, less stressed. In turn, this means that you will be better able to help others.
Movement is my natural medicine, however there are moments of discomfort in yoga too!
Emotions can get trapped in the hips. It’s perfectly normal to feel sad, frustrated, and angry the odd time after yoga because the practice releases pent-up emotions from our body tissue. Mostly though, people report feeling calm afterwards.
“The pelvis is full of our creative, reproductive organs and contains the centrally located psoas muscle that connects the upper and lower body (the breath and diaphragm to the legs) making the core of our body important both physically and emotionally,”
–Martha Eddy, somatic educator.
HAPPY HIPS BENEFITS
To sum up, our hips bear a huge amount of weight, stabilize the core, and facilitate movement in the upper part of our legs. Yoga can improve strength and mobility as well as increasing our range of motion. The placement of your bones affect how flexible your joints are and it is dangerous to force the body. Core strength is important for overall wellbeing. If the legs, spine, and hips are nourished through yoga, it can help to stabilise the spine and improve posture. This impacts on mental health in a positive way.
Esther Ekhart (2022) ‘Tension versus compression in yoga’.
Dr. Alison Grimaldi, physiotherapist.
Bouckabache et al (2020) ‘Prolonged sitting and physical inactivity are associated with limited hip extension: A cross-sectional study’.
Dr. Martha Eddy is a somatic educator.