Happy hips equals happy mind
When I was about 13 I started getting some weird stuff happening in my right hip. I was a very active kid, and was super into my ballet. I just loved it so much. But my hip started clunking in and out, making all sorts of crazy popping noises and I would get a bit of pain in the hip joint too. The doctors thought it might be this thing called Perthes disease (A rare childhood hip condition where the hip socket doesn’t form properly)which would have meant being on crutches for about a year to let it heal (I remember being told that quite vividly and was pretty upset). I gave up ballet because I thought that was the problem. Thinking about it now, I wish someone had told me not to give up and to find a way to work around the issue and still dance. But I was young and just did what I was told.
Knowing what I know about the how amazing the human body is at healing itself and how stopping movement entirely is the worst thing you can do, I realise now I probably could have kept dancing in some way. But back then, complete imobilisation was quite common way of treatment and often people were told just to stop doing things. There was no internet back then, I didn’t see any physiotherapist or anyone to treat me and I had to just rely on what the adults were telling me to do. It turned out that I didn’t have Perthes disease but I gave up ballet anyway as I was so full of fear of what could happen to my hips that I didn’t want to make it any worse.
Fast-forward many years later to today and it’s funny now how hip health is such a huge part of my life. I work on my hips daily and help many others do the same. I’ve been able to work deeply into hips albeit a very slow and sometimes frustrating process and now only have minor issues, which I can manage if I keep up with my yoga practice.
Our yoga practice is pretty much a huge hip opening opportunity. I see it and have witnessed it in my own body that when the hips are strong, stable and supple, the spine then feels supported and can move the way it was designed to and our knees don’t have to do all the work. So many back and knee problems are exacerbated because we feel trapped and stuck by tight and immobile hips. When our hips are happy and healthy so is the rest of our body. Something else interesting about working on the hips is the emotional and energetic discoveries.
“Yogic tradition holds the hips as a storage ground for negative feelings and pent-up emotions, especially ones related to control in our lives. Hip-opening can also create space for the birth of new ideas and new pathways. Opening the hips gives us access to freedom in the body and in our own unique expression.”
~Bethany Lyons for Yoga Journal.
This is why I wanted to do a special workshop on the hips and share all of my favourite yoga postures and strengthening drills I use to open, strengthen and keep my hips happy. The workshop will be broken down into three parts –
Stability – we will focus first on the muscles that stabilize the hips, lower back and sacro-illiac joints. We will work on strengthening the inner and outer hip muscles, the gluteus medius and adductor muscles specifically to help have a better understanding of the muscles in this area and know how to switch on the ones we need and switch off the patterns we don’t.
Openness – opening the hips can help calm our central nervous system, and allow us to cope more easily with change, especially if we feel ungrounded or flighty. We will hold postures for longer than usual and gradually work on releasing deep tension in and around the hips. Leave feeling more spacious in your lower body and more relaxed in your mind and muscles.
Breathwork – we will also work on some fundamental breathing exercises to help clear out stagnation that often gets trapped in the lower part of the body i.e the hips.
The aim is for you to leave feeling lighter, and with a new found awareness and respect of the hip joint and surrounds. You will also receive practice notes and pictures to take and continue working on at home.