OK, I admit that happy hip stretches is a bit of an oxymoron as almost no one I know genuinely loves the feeling of stretching out tight hips. That s$!t hurts!
Even so, it’s vitally important for our hips to stay happy day in and day out. I also don’t know anyone who genuinely loves hobbling around with tight hips.
Why do we have such tight hips?
Well, for a variety of reasons. If you work at a desk and you sit all day long, this contracts your hip flexors, which tightens everything up around your hips.
On the other side of the coin, if you’re an athlete who runs or engages in any type of high intensity workouts, then you’re also tightening up the hip flexors and the rest of your hip muscles.
Since the beginning of time, it’s been hard to fit in significant stretching to counterbalance all the strengthening and so the hips (and many other muscle groups – hi shoulders and hamstrings) – lose out.
Pain vs Sensation
If you ever take my yoga classes, you’ll hear me talk about sensation a lot. Because the hips are so tight, it’s likely you’ll feel a lot of “sensation.” I use the word sensation because it’s neutral, and there’s a reason for that.
In yoga, it’s important that we lean into sensation regardless of whether or not we label it as “good” or “bad” in our minds. With that said, there is a very real difference between sensation and pain.
If you ever feel sharp, shooting sensations that truly hurt, back off of your stretch. That’s no bueno.
However, if you’re feeling extreme discomfort but you can still comfortably breathe, stick with it! This is where true transformation happens.
The energetic and physical body converge around emotions. When we are unable to express emotions and we “keep them in” or “stuff them inside,” they have to go somewhere. While that emotional storage shed is different for every body, the hips seem to have a lot of vacant room for stuffed emotions and so this emotional baggage settles in our tissues. You may have heard the phrase before “the issue is in our tissues.”
When you’re stretching the hips, like really getting in there deep, you’re opening up the locked doors to these emotional storage sheds and allowing everything that’s been stuck inside (perhaps for decades) to finally be gone. During this process, it’s natural to experience all those emotions as they’re on their way out of your body. These emotions aren’t going to go peacefully, that’s for sure, just as you wouldn’t appreciate someone knocking on your door and telling you it’s time to leave.
This is why many people will experience sudden anger, sadness, jealousy, etc. when doing deep stretching in the hips (same goes for shoulders & chest). Allow this to happen rather then trying to stuff it back inside! It’s time to let the squatters go.
You’re unlikely to have significant emotional release from today’s video as it’s short and semi-sweet, but I put it out there as a milestone to be aware of. The truth of the matter is, it will take a long time to get your hips all stretched out if you’ve been working through tightness for years and years and years. Our bodies don’t change overnight.
While today’s short practice is a fabulous start, I encourage you to come back to it daily, or at least a couple times a week. (Ok, I know it’s 10 minutes and not 5, but your hips deserve it.)
Practice moving around every now and then if you find yourself sitting for long hours at a time.
If you’re practicing high intensity workouts, take the time to stretch when you’re done.
Preventative measures can go a long way in helping you avoid the super tight hips you’re now trying to unwind.
Let’s make a pact together right now to not make it worse and commit instead to making our hips happy!