Many of us are predominantly sedentary throughout the day. Even if we do engage in work that keeps us moderately active, our range of motion is limited. Marathon runners for example, have notoriously tight hips and hamstrings. Even though marathoners move quite a bit, their movement is highly repetitive. Healthy hips require a wide range of motion. Practicing hip openers releases the synovial fluid that keeps synovial joints (of which hips are an example) moving. Healthy hips work to keep the body stable and strong while alleviating back pain and even foot and shoulder pain.
One of the greatest rewards and fiercest challenges when it comes to hip opening is the way in which these asanas draw us in toward our selves. We can either resist the screaming pain of a tight hip muscle or use the breath to fully experience the discomfort in that moment without attachment. It is a long held yogi belief that past traumas and emotional blockages can be stored up in the complexity and tightness of the hips. First hand experience leads me to believe this is true. I have on more than one occasion been in a moment of deep hip opening when I have experienced a release so powerful that it moved me to tears.
You are probably thinking to yourself, yes because the pose hurt so bad. But I will tell you, once you move beyond the physical sensation of pain in any pose, there is an esoteric layer of sensation that is really beyond words. It ceases to become pain and becomes a certain rawness that assists us in healing. The wisdom of the body knows exactly what to heal once we can move beyond the chatter in the mind and attachment to whatever pain sensation we are feeling. From this space we are fully present and our mind, body, and spirit unite to bring us closer to our True essence. This is the meaning and purpose of yoga. Unity and peace. Hip openers actually led me to fall in love with the art of yoga and draw me back to my mat every day.
May this reflection on hip opening bring you food for your yoga journey. Namaste!