4 Reasons to Stretch the Hips

It’s not to do fancy yoga poses…

 

The image of a yogi with their leg behind their head is a famous one…

Well, achieving this pose is NOT the reason to stretch your hips!

Most yoga classes you attend will include some hip-opening poses. I really enjoy these because they always give me a big sense of release.

My yoga students frequently tell me that they feel stiff in their hips. And after a class containing hip-openers I often hear from them that they ‘really needed’ those poses.

So, why are these beneficial?

By now it’s probably clear that it is NOT the point of yoga to look great in fancy yoga poses… But what actually IS the point of opening the hips?

Here’s my take on it.

 

1. Open hips make sitting more comfortable

There’s no denying it… our daily lives involve a lot of sitting.

But sitting on an office chair for a long time can make your back ache! (Hands up if you have personal experience with this…)

Well, the original yogis wanted to sit for a very long time to meditate, but they ran into the same problem! It was uncomfortable!

So the original point of yoga poses was to open the hips so that sitting cross-legged on the floor could be done comfortably for hoooooours of mediation.

Well, even if you’re not so keen on the mediation part, opening YOUR hips will help you sit comfortably, with your back straight, too.

(After opening your hips, you’ll most likely find yourself sitting cross-legged on your office chair, as I do – my favourite position to work!)

 

2. Open hips help you pick-up things

If I had a penny for every time I’ve picked-up our toddler or his toys/food/drinks off the ground, then I’d be veeeeery rich.

One thing that has saved my back is that I squat right down with a straight back almost every time. This requires open hips and strong legs. THANKFULLY my yoga practice has given me these.

This is not only relevant to parents, but to us all. We need to pick things up while tidying the house, gardening, picking up litter, collecting sea-shells, picking up a pet, weight-lifting at the gym… etc. etc. etc.

You get the picture. We ALL pick up things!

 

3. Open hips reduce lower back/knee pain

This is a little technical…

The muscles around the hip joint can get stiff and a little ‘stuck’. Where the muscles attach to bones (via tendons) can then start to pull a bit.

Our hips have lots of muscles crossing them and attached to them. Some of these muscles attach to the lumbar (lower) spine. One example is the pair of Psoas muscles. When these get tight with a lot sitting, they pull on the lumbar spine.

Other muscles originate from the hips (pelvic girdle) and go down towards the legs. One example is the group of muscles that form your Quadriceps. These attach to your knee-cap, so if they are tight, they can pull your knee cap in one direction (depending on which of the Quadriceps is tightest).

I’ll stop there before your eyes glaze over! Suffice to say, your spine and knees will be happiest with supple muscles around the hip-to-thigh and hip-to-back junctions!

 

4. Emotional release

This last reason is perhaps a little ‘woo-woo’.

In the yoga-world, it is said that we hold pent-up emotions and stress in our hips. So stretching the hips maaaaaaay be helpful for our mental wellbeing as well.

While my science-brain finds it difficult to put words to this phenomenon, I do FEEL this personally in my yoga practice.

I always end my own yoga practice with a long hold in half-pigeon pose, and this gives me a lovely feeling of mental and physical release.

You may have experienced that after a tough day in the office you feel physically tense, and perhaps especially in the hips?

Even if you’re skeptical about this point, it’s worth keeping an open mind about it. After all, who knows?

Happy Hips in 28 days!

I invite you to join my 28-day Happy Hips Challenge! 💪

This involves just 15 minutes of guided yoga a day.

Starting easy and then slowly getting deeper.

I’ve designed it to get RESULTS!

Your hips will thank you!

Join the Challenge!

I hope you enjoyed this mini blog. 🤓

Please share your views in comments below!

Jolanthe x

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