Traditional yogic thought attributes many healing properties to hip openers. Knowing that many benefits of certain poses are determined by the function of the the chakra system, I was prompted to do a little research into its role.
Most importantly, our main energy source is prana, which flows through our body in three separate channels. The main channel, susumna, follows the course of the spine, flanked on either side by the ida and pinga channel. The ida channel represents our feminine energy, the pingala, our masculine. The cool energy of the ida and the hot energy of the pinga pass through chakra points along the susuma allowing the prana to merge. When the prana is running freely and equally in the central channel, we feel balanced and revitalised. Unfortunately the channels become blocked, often at one of the chakra points, and the prana cannot circulate freely. This generates a feeling of being stuck or restricted.
Physical tightness in our hips, caused by our western sedentary lifestyle, contributes to the blocking of the one of the lowest chakra points, Svadhisthana. The Svadhisthana point is considered our seat of base emotion, sexuality and desire. Stretching out the tightness in the hips encourages the loosening of our pelvic and abdominal muscles, allowing prana energy to circulate more freely through the chakra point. This in turn creates a feeling of release and discharges unwanted, lingering emotions held at the Svadhistana.
One of my favourite hip openers is the pigeon pose. I’ll suggest a short sequence below to practice it, more for my own reference than anything. My hip muscles are often reluctant o relex into the pose, and it can take a little coaxing to fully relax and release the grip. Our bodies have a love-hate relationship with hip openers, they crave the release but are fearful of letting go.
Start in downward dog.
Point the left foot up to the ceiling and gradually swing the leg forward, placing the knee next to the left wrist and allowing the right leg to stretch out behind you.
Settle into the pelvis and check that the hips are square.
Keeping the hands alongside the body for now, flatten the back and keep the chest raised. As you try to stretch the right hip down towards the left heel, reach the arms forward and walk the hands along the floor to a comfortable position.
Reverse the sequence to come gently out of the pose, have a wiggle in downward facing dog, and repeat on the other side.