Opening the Hips

Check here for questions about Yin Yoga and hips. (Note: discussions about sciatica are in the Spine forum.)
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vincent
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:10 am
Location: Medford, OR

Opening the Hips

Post by vincent »

I can understand the need for almost all the yoga postures and the muscles they work, but I don't understand what it means to "open" the hips and why this is a good thing.

I saw a video demonstration of a man going into padmassana, and it looked kind of freaky to see the way he flattened his leg, and I'm a fairly flexible guy.

It looks almost like it could do some harm, and it reminds me of when my boys were young and they had GI Joe action figures. The arms and legs could move and were in sockets in the body, held in place by tiny rubber bands. But sometimes those rubber bands would wear out and stretch, and there would be a dangling leg, and that's what I fear hip opening would do.

Can someone shed some light on this for me please?
Vincent
Bernie
Posts: 1212
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Hip Openers

Post by Bernie »

Your hip joints have a normal, natural range of motion, just like every other joint in your body. Why not have your hips as "open" as they should be, in the same way you would want your spine to be as flexible as it can be? Of course, you can do too much of anything! Trying to go beyond the natural range of motion that our body can do, which is ultimately dependent upon our bones, is not wise and leads to damage, sometimes permanent damage.

Over time, and through dis-use and mis-use, our joints can become shrink-wrapped and tight. To counter act this, we use our yoga poses to regain our flexibility. The point is never to get so open that we can do a particular pose; we don't use the body to get into a pose, we use the pose to get into the body. There is nothing important about padmasana or putting your feet behind your head. What is important is to have a healthy body, free flow of energy and a natural range of motion with strength.

There are contortionists who will always make us feel squeamish; that just ain't right! Don't try to be like them. Do work to your own edges.

If you want to learn more about your own unique ranges of motions and how trying to do some poses could be positively harmful to you, watch Paul Grilley's DVD Anatomy for Yoga (you can watch some of these clips on YouTube.)

Cheers
Bernie
vincent
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 8:10 am
Location: Medford, OR

Post by vincent »

I'll see if I can find those videos.

I certainly do want to have flexibilty and "openness" where I should, but I just don't understand how that works with the hips and joints in that area, and hopefully the videos will help.

Just curious--are contortionists too flexible, and have they damaged their bodies?

It's kind of sad that most of my life my perception of yoga was that it was stuff like what contortionists do.
Vincent
Bernie
Posts: 1212
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Have you ever seen an old contortionist?

Post by Bernie »

Most performers sacrifice health for their craft. Talk to any retired athlete, dancer, gymnast and you'll discover that they retired because of joint issues. When we constantly try for maximum performance over maximum health, we can wear out the joints. See the newsletter article about the Goldilocks' position.

http://www.yinyoga.com/Newsletter_volume1.php

If you watch Paul's video, and/or visit his web site, you will see that people go to ultimately what their bones will allow. Some people's bones will allow a huge range of motion, while others can not get anywhere near that degree of flexibility. It is not that contortionists have broken their bodies to get their natural flexibility, but rather that they get to where they can, and then keep trying to get more. That is where injury occurs.

http://www.paulgrilley.com/index.php?op ... &Itemid=30

Cheers
Bernie
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