Why hip openers?

by Emma , Sep 4, 2021

Why hip openers?

Why hip openers?

The pelvic girdle at the base of the spine is an exceptionally complex part of the human musculoskeletal system. No wonder it’s always given a good amount of time in your yoga classes.

Your hips, situated crucially just below the middle of your body, have the hard job of simultaneously providing stability and mobility. When something is malfunctioning in the hips it can lead to lower back pain, knee pain, headaches, lack of sleep, increased stress and anxiety, difficulties dealing with emotions, and in general a poorer quality of life than you could be experiencing. With all its complexity, 36 muscles (some anatomists say more) are grouped into agonists, antagonists, stabilisers, and synergists; internal rotators, external rotators, elevators, and more. To fully open and refresh this complex joint requires more than just a simple forward bend. And the benefits of giving proper attention to the hips are wondrous!

To start with, when we are experiencing excessive stress or anxiety the deeper psoas muscles in the pelvic girdle tense up as part of the body's stress response (fight or flight response to mental, physical, or emotional stress). They also tighten up when you spend all day sitting at a desk… When these muscles are regularly and subconsciously “switched on” or “clenched” they shorten; shortened psoas adds strain to your lower back and knees, often causing achy pain in either or both. Another scary side effect of tight psoas muscles is that when the sensory nerves carry the information back to your central nervous system they trigger your amygdala to start the fear response. Basically meaning tight psoas muscles trigger fear and anxiety, and so the downward cycle begins. 


How to break the downward spiral? Try these top 5 hip openers

Kapotasana (pigeon pose) and all its variations
Gomukhasana (cow face pose) 
Supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle pose)
Ardha matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose)
Utthan pristhasana (wide legged forward fold) 


As you regularly practice these asanas you will experience improvement in posture and mood, reduced stress and anxiety, lessened back and knee pain, greater mobility, and stability in the hip region. Enjoy!