Something always makes me feel good after yoga and that is the freedom I feel around the hips when walking after class. Having practised postures and movements that have helped create space in the hip region, walking feels like butter and the legs move effortlessly.
HOW DO YOU FREE YOUR HIPS? I am certain there are many ways of doing so, but in yoga terms I like to focus on lengthening and strengthening the psoas muscle, the deep core muscle behind the abdominals. I think the most fun exercise we do in class to achieve this is to stand up and make figure of eight loops with the hips. Since I learned it from renowned yoga teacher Donna Farhi I have incorporated this hip move in every class. It might feel a bit daring and unusual at the start. However, once you get going, you will notice it is very enjoyable. It helps create space in the pelvic region in addition to releasing tension.
WHY DOES IT FEEL SO GOOD? I believe because it works on the physical and emotional level at the same time. Deep-seated emotions (mark the work “seated”, a great indicator of where they are located) often get stuck in the hip region. We keep a lot of emotional history there, such as fear and repressed emotions. In spiritual terms, it is in the area around the root chakra, the energy centre at the base of the spine, that fear gets stuck. If you have lived a certain number of years, imagine how much tension you might potentially and unconsciously be holding on to, blocking you to feel great about life.
A few years ago I attended a year-long myofascial movement training course with fascia specialist Gary Carter. I learned that hips are designed to roll. You can easily see it on a skeleton: The pelvic structure is movable and not just a fixed block of bones, and there is a reason why the top of the thigh bones is round as a golf ball. There is a total of 64 muscular structures attached to your pelvis… A lot of places where tightness could happen! I also learned that many of us tend to resist rolling the hips. Oh yes, I am guilty of that. As it was winter at the time and I was wearing a big coat to keep warm, I decided to start a daily outdoor hip-rolling practice: Every morning while out with my dog I would walk and exaggerate the rolling of my hips. No one could see it with my coat on. I was aiming for 1) reclaiming a natural way of moving the hips and 2) releasing unnecessary tension and fears. No matter how “well” I did, I certainly became aware of how unnecessary it is to hold back the rolling motion in the hip region, both for my physical and emotional health.
Go for it, free your hips. Let them roll as they are designed to roll. Use the coat trick to get started if that feels safer, it is still winter out there 🙂