The winter season has passed us; still most people might be feeling a little tight and constricted in their physical self from the weather. Less exercise and cold weather makes one less apt to be in top shape. Naturally, it is hard to remain as active and open as we grow older with less or limited types of exercise. If your body is tight you may feel more anxious, stressed or irritable because your physical self affects the emotional self and vice versa. All of these are justifiable reasons to spend a few minutes putting the mind into our hips.
How many people consciously take time to address or open their hips, a gateway to the energy flow of your body? If you think about the crown as the top of the energy flow and the feet as the bottom, the natural middle is the hips. We want our energy to flow unobstructed from head to a toe, and back again, which enables blood, energy and oxygen to stimulate the body.
There is a lot going on when we talk about the hips. The hip joint affects the legs and the pelvis, the sacrum and tailbone. The hips join these two workhorses of our bodies. The hips make sure the legs track properly and that the spine is erected in a straight long fashion. This means we are kept in good form and order by having aligned, open hips.
Inherently hips are tight to maintain the delicate balance and mobility of our lives. We should keep that in mind when we begin to address our hips and attempt to increase their flexibility. When I first started practicing yoga I had no patience and I was very persistent to open my tight hips. It was a battle and I used force to try and win the feat. What I learned was there is no strong-arming your basic anatomy and eventually I tore a hip flexor by practicing kung fu kicks with inflexible joints.
Know that for every action there is a re-action. By the way, it takes about a year to fully repair a hip flexor. Not fun at all!
The smarter safer way to increase your flexibility and cultivate good chi (energy) throughout your body is to consciously, regularly return to your practice. Engage in those types of postures that address the body part that you want to work. Take time to send your breath energy (long, slow, controlled breaths) into the spaces where you are working. Release the tightness through your breath and mind being focused to that area. You can even visualize the hip, as you desire it.
If you can slowly allow the body to change and evolve you will be accomplishing patience and flexibility at the same time. Getting in tune with the rhythm of your body and allowing it to feel comfortable and safe enough to naturally open. This will make you more in harmony with what and how your body acts, responds and adapts as you create a deeper flow through your body.
Try these postures or forms:
Knee to Ankle
Straddled Forward Bend