Performing hip opening yoga postures can be very beneficial for the release of tension in this region of the body. We rely so much on our hips for example for walking, sitting, running, or dancing.
If there are hinderances in the hips, it makes it challenging to function in these standard ways. Practicing a variety of passive and dynamic yoga hip openers can generate the desired physical release.
Hip openers in yoga serve another important function, too. The hip and pelvic area of the body is associated with Sacral (the Second) Chakra.
"Chakra" in Sanskrit means “wheel” or “disk" and refers to the "energy centers" in our body. There are seven energy centers /chakras in human body. There is an energy line that runs from the base of the spine through the crown of the head, which connects them all. The Second Chakra, or Swadhisthanain Sanskrit, is situated in the lower abdominal region. If you place your hand just below your belly button, this is the area related to the second chakra energy center.
The color attributed to the Second Chakra is orange and the element is water. This space regulates our general emotions like sadness, worry, love, joy, and happiness.
It is also associated with the creative mind and the reproductive system. When this area is open and running efficiently, these functions flow easily and are in balance. If, though, this energy center becomes blocked, it becomes less fluid. You may experience stagnant or stuck emotions or even overwhelming emotional reactions to things. It is important, therefore, to bring balance back to the Second Chakra. Performing hip openers helps to clear the energy blockages for enhanced functioning.
Three Yoga Hip Openers
Perform these three hip opening yoga poses as a sequence on one side first. They are designed to bring awareness to the hip-opening function, but also the energy release sometimes needed in this energy center. When complete, you will shift your focus to the other leg.
Start this pose on your hands and knees. Extend your right leg back behind you to experience a full length in this limb. Then step your right foot to the top of the mat. Keep your hands on the inside of the foot. Gently dip your hip forward and downward to feel the hip release in the left leg. This will manifest as a lengthening sensation in your left hip flexor, a part of the body that tends to hold a lot of tension.
You will also feel a hip stretch in the right inner thigh area. You can remain on your hands in this position, but if you'd like to take this further, place your elbows on the floor (if you are unable to reach the ground with your elbows, use a stack of yoga blocks instead). By lowering your body downward in this fashion, you will intensify the release in your right hip. To make this pose even more active, lift your left knee off the floor; this will engage the quadricep. Imagine your thigh bone lifting upward toward the ceiling. Hold your posture for 10 slow, deep breaths.
Deep Lunge Variation
To activate more hip release in your right leg, rise back up onto your hands from the first deep lunge position. Place your right hand on the inside of your bent right leg and gently push outward. (You will need to roll onto the outside edge of your right foot to manipulate this pose.) Your upper body can lean away in the opposite direction. Hold for 10 slow and long breaths. Be mindful of the sensation generated in these hip releases. With the nuanced postures, you can target minute areas in the hips, thighs, and hip flexors for effective release.
From your deep lunge position, slowly shift your hips back until your left hip is aligned over your left knee. Your right leg will automatically extend from its bent position. Brace yourself by keeping your hands (or fingertips) on the floor. Maintain a good length in your spine, too. You will notice a lengthening in the right hamstring, but emphasize the movement of your hips back. This will stimulate more tension release in your hips and glutes. Hold your posture for 10 slow deep breaths.
After you have completed this full sequence on the first side, return to a neutral table-top position, then perform the same postures on the other side.The static hold of these poses is necessary for the myofascial release in your connective tissues. Physiologically, you are reorganizing the muscular system in this area of the body to help dispose of tightness. Energetically, you are also releasing locked up emotional tension that tends to bind us. Hip opening postures help (pranic) energy flow through the body as intended. Focusing on this area will establish emotional balance for a more calm and peaceful mind.