There are several reasons why your hips may be tight: in could be sport-induced (if you like running or cycling), lifestlye-induced (if you have a sedentary job or sit alot) or due to weak core muscles. Some people also think that we hold our emotions in our hips so if we are mentally tense then our hips may well be mirroring that. Whatever the reason, gently stretching, breathing and creating space through a series of hip opening yoga poses feels fantastic! Only stretch to about 80% your maximum range for a healthy amount of release. Ironically if you approach your yoga session with a “push mentality” then your body is likely to be less elastic and you may end up over stretching your ligaments and tendons when we want to stretch the belly of your muscles.
Ease into your practice with softness as you listen to your body – it will tell you how much stretch feels good and where your personal limitations are. Pain is a great indicator of our boundaries: stretches might feel uncomfortable but they should never be painful. Be kind to yourself and make the necessary modifications for a nourishing practice.
Will this have a positive affect on my mental health?
Slow relaxing yoga has a positive effect on your nervous system by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system calming and slowing down the thoughts in your head. A relaxed body is one that will open and surrender – this is why relaxing yoga is so beneficial for women who are going to give birth. Similarly, the positive cycle of long slow stretches and relaxing your mind compliment one another. If you feel you are particularly low or anxious at the moment, try doing a slow yoga practice focusing on long slow breaths at least three times a week.
What else can I do?
Do individual stretches sitting at your desk or after any sport. Remember the poses that feel particularly challenging and do them more frequently until your body experiences ease with the position – it is nearly always just a matter of time and practice! Long hot baths and regular massage can also help keep the body balanced and limber.
It is worth remembering that a good level of flexibility means healthy mobility- healthy mobility means a wide range of movements will be pain-free and are more likely to be pain-free for the length of your life. Unfortunately we often don’t recognise the life-changing impact of dysfunction and pain until we hurt. Pre-hab is always better than rehab, if something is tight – put the time in to balance the body now BEFORE you injure yourself.
You need your body every single day and the rest of life is very difficult if it isn’t in good health so make it your number one priority: you deserve nothing less!
Happy moving and stretching,
See you on the mat,