All About the Hips: Staying Centered During Yoga
Yoga relies heavily on the hips. Nearly every pose involves muscles that cross the hips, so yoga is one big hip-opening journey. Many important muscles pass through the hips, and daily yoga movements flex these muscles. Here are some tips to help open up your hips and help you stay centered:
Yoga and the Hips
Yoga poses require flexible hip muscles and flexors. You’ll be less mobile when your hips are tight and may experience pain. Tight hips also sacrifice the next closest place of mobility, which is your spine. Balanced hips make you mobile and reduce the chances of injury and discomfort. You’ll also elude spinal issues like arching lower back and lumbar spine compression.
Yoga poses can stretch the iliopsoas (hip flexors) and external hip rotators. These two muscle groups tend to get tight and cause pain, discomfort, and other issues. The hip has about 15 muscle groups, and yoga engages all of them. Many yoga poses also require balanced hips to help you stay centered. Tight hips affect your ability to perform different actions, like the wheel pose.
Yoga hip openers can bring a sense of release in many tight areas and across the board. The yogic tradition considers the hip a storage area for negative, pent-up emotions and control. Hip opening can bring release and create space for new pathways. It also improves the range of motion and blood flow and reduces back pain. Opening the hips through yoga creates an energetic shift and gives you better balance and control.
Staying Centered During Yoga
Yogis relate the center with the earth element. Some moves are designed to bring you back to the center. Poses like side planks and runner’s lunge focus on improving balance returning to the center. You need balanced hips to remain centered during yoga moves. Since all yoga poses involve finding a balance, practitioners must train and strengthen their hips. Here are a few yoga hip openers that can help you stay centered:
1. Half Pigeon Pose
The half-pigeon pose targets your external hip rotators and gluteals. To perform the move, start from a downward-facing dog pose and reach to one leg. Next, draw the knee behind the corresponding wrist and flex the foot or press it to the ground at the top.
Move your hands back to your hips and then square the hips forward. If you can’t keep the hip up, use a block or towel for support. Lower your torso to create a sensation in the outer side of the hip. Come out of the pose as soon as you feel the sensation.
2. Side Plank Variations
The side plank (Vasisthasana) is a typical advanced yoga routine. If you’re new to yoga, you can pursue various supported plank variations to work out your glutes, hamstrings, and quads. The move starts with a forward plank position and ends with one knee and arm on the floor.
Once on all fours in a plank position, bend one knee and plant it firmly on the ground. Turn to your side and lift one arm, then raise the other leg and hold it straight for a couple of seconds. Bend the raised leg and hold the front of your foot using the extended arm.
3. Cow Face Pose
The cow face (Gomukhasana) pose is another hip opener that targets your gluteals and external hip rotators. Again, you can find different variations, and most are beginner-level poses. Start with a supine lay, which involves laying on your back with your knees bent and feet planted.
Cross one knee over to the other and grab the ankles or feet. Keep your sacrum down and hug the knee toward your chest. Adjust the height of your feet to feel more sensation. Lift the other foot and grab it with your other hand, so both knees are suspended.
Open Your Hips With Daily Yoga
Yoga is one of the most accessible routines to begin. All you need is a small space and a mat. You can start daily yoga at home and leverage online lessons to master the moves. The goal is to retrain your mind and body to move better for life. Yoga hip openers can also boost energy as they provide challenging workouts for practitioners at all levels. Stick to reputable yoga classes that can give you a challenge.