Last Sunday I attended a Hip Opening Workshop, which was great since my lower body is always super tight! Read more to find out what the workshop was like!
The class was 1.5 hrs and while it was announced as a ‘Hip Opening Workshop”, we worked on the areas around the hips, like strengthening weaknesses we tend to have in the lower back, hips and core. All of this would help with overall postural alignment. The way we approached this was by doing bracing postures and tugging with relaxed shapes. My instructor Stacey described it like this: Point your finger really hard. You can feel your finger and muscles tight and working to achieve the strong point. Now try to pull on your finger, it doesn’t go anywhere, your body is bracing itself. Sometimes we forget to brace ourselves doing everyday things and then stuff starts to get loose. Other times it is helpful to relax muscles and to tug on the muscles, connective tissues and skeleton, like in a yin yoga class, to stimulate different areas than by stretching alone. Now relax your finger and pull on it again. You feel your joint capsule expanding and you might even pop your knucle. This helps lengthen your finger and offers a different sensation than the bracing. During some of these poses or shapes, you might sense that some areas feel really ‘full’ and if you keep going, you will get a natural adjustment/release. In that case, it would be helpful to move toward it, but just listen to your body to tell the difference between a strain and that tight/full feeling.
We tend to distribute our weight unevenly on our feet, most tend to lean toward the outside, so it is important to work on distributing our weight evenly on the four ‘corners’ of our feet. To do that, imagine taking the inside edge of your kneecap, up, the vastis medialis. Pull that muscle if you could, all the way up to your hips. Then pull your hip bones up to your lower ribs, which requires some tilting upward using your pelvic floor. This is very different than pushing your butt down because its not a tilt with your glutes to push your hips forward, which puts more strain on your lower back. It should feel supported to you if done correctly. Keep your shoulders down and you can practice this like trying to draw the bottom of your scapulas down the backs of your ribs. It will open up your chest as well. Then we worked on lifting each leg individually from the midline: keeping the hips parallel, using your core, not shifting your weight to the outside of your standing foot and slowly raising your knee up. This is harder to do than it sounds. We worked on honing this idea for the next 10 minutes or so to start with a good foundation.
After we did a couple sun salutations to warm up we, we started opening the hips. First we started with a kneeling Warrior I to tug on the front of the hip, then flowed to straightening the front leg to stretch the hamstring (so we moved back), rocked forward to the modified Warrior I and repeated a few times, always remembering to move from the core and bracing the low back. Then we did some twisting poses in the kneeling Warrior I with deep breaths on both sides. The next series of poses we did revolved around Warrior II, keeping hips in a straight line with our feet and making sure our hands were over our feet in the deep lunge position. For me, I had gone on a run the day before and my groin was SUPER sore! This was nearly excruciating for me, but after a couple minutes, my muscles started to ease into the pose. To engage the correct muscles, we had to squeeze with our inner thighs, but you could still feel your entire body working. Its a stretching and strengthening pose. Again, we did some various twisting poses in Warrior II (both sides), which I could really feel in my middle back. Breath is very important, so I really worked on breathing into my tight vertebrae (important to twist at the waist not at the hip).
One of the shapes we relaxed into include the pose above. Putting our spine on a comfy bolster while our lower hips touched the floor and our knees splayed out. Another nice stretch for my tight groin area. We also did some stacked knee twists/stretches to stretch the outer hips and upper IT band areas, hamstring stretches on the floor and relaxed into pigeon pose. Since we held pigeon pose for about 5 minutes on each side, we had to come out of the pose very carefully and realign ourselves before going onto the next side. To end the class we laid in savasana pose for almost 10 minutes. Overall it was a great workshop and I’m definitely going to incorporate more of these poses into my regular stretching routine since some of the twists could really get some of the areas I can’t stretch otherwise.
Have you ever attended a hip opening workshop? What did you think?