Mindfulness exposes us to many things about ourselves. It brings deep emotions to the surface by instructing us to stay with our feelings. It teaches us how to find joy by slowing down and noticing the beauty around us.
But mindfulness also reveals the ways in which we neglect our physical health. If you tune in and stay present, it’s very common to note fatigue, tension, or pain in the physical body. Two very popular areas in distress are the lower back and the hips.
Why Hip Health Is So Important
Modern civilization has adopted a nasty habit: sitting. Whether for our jobs or to watch TV, we increasingly spend more time sitting. We need healthy, open hips to sit comfortably, but the act of sitting itself does not contribute to hip health. In other words, we need to sit less in order to be able to sit – or chronic pain and disease could become the main problem.
Furthermore, healthy hips are important to other parts of our body. If we let our hips go unloved, we are putting more stress on the spine. That’s why so many of us have tight hips and an aching back at the same time. Additionally, muscles that run down your inner thighs, glutes, quads, and more all connect at the hip. So, pain in any of these areas can stem from unhealthy hips.
Finally, those of us who do yoga can tell you about the long-held belief that emotions are stored in the hips. While this may seem a little strange, people do indeed tend to get choked up while performing hip openers. Some would chalk it up to a blockage in the second chakra. Others would simply say that working to open tense, tight hips is a huge release.
How to Love Your Hips
Fortunately, anyone with tight, painful hips can mindfully, gently improve their condition. The first recommendation from health professionals is to keep weight in a healthy range. However, what weight is healthiest is unique to each body. People of all sizes can work to improve flexibility and hip health in the meantime.
Do yoga. If you don’t have a regular yoga practice now, start one for your hips. A great deal of yoga asanas are especially for hip opening. Try butterfly pose (baddha konasana), pigeon pose (kapotasana), and runner’s lunge (ardha hanumanasana) to foster flexibility.
Work on your posture. Tight hips hurt the back, and back pain impacts posture. Poor posture completes the loop, locking our bodies in a cycle of pain, tension, and compression. This is one reason why meditation is so good for our bodies as well as our minds. Learn to balance your spine, shoulders, and head in a line above the hips – it might feel unnatural at first, but it will soon become effortless.
Stay mindful. Mindfulness helps us avoid injury. It tells us when we’re pushing ourselves too far in yoga. It also makes it less likely we’ll trip and fall, or when we’re sitting in a way that hurts us. Mindfulness can reveal your pain, but also aid you in overcoming it.
What are your favorite hip openers? How many hours per day do you spend sitting, and are you doing anything to change that? Let us know in the comments, and come see us again next week.