Those Rough Days
It never ceases to amaze me how yoga can truly and completely heal. There was one particular day a couple months ago that was pretty bad. I was completely drained, emotional, and anxious, and really all I wanted to do after work was curl up in a ball in my bed and never leave. But I ended up walking towards my studio, and despite the tears streaming down my face, and the shortness of my breath, I found myself entering the studio, laying down on my mat, and completely succumbing to the overwhelming emotions that were filling up in my body.
My practice began quite roughly. I had short shallow breaths, I was crying (probably freaking out the girl next to me) and I literally couldn’t just be. During the first few poses I felt impatient and my inability to focus was tremendous. But even if I was crawling out of my skin and wanting to curl up in a ball in my bed, I knew that this was better than sitting in my room wallowing in my sadness, and I knew it was better than going for that glass of wine and ice cream that I much would have rather indulged in. Feeling vulnerable on my mat just resulted in me going deeper and becoming more introspective in my practice.
The Junk Drawer
As fate would have it, I realized quickly that my teacher decided to choose this day, this particular class that I reluctantly walked into, to focus on hip opening positions. There are so many physical reasons to do hip-opening poses: limber hips can ease back pain, give you a more agile walk, and even improve circulation in your legs. But there’s also a more sublet benefit as well: typically hips are the center of a lot of emotions. Most yoga teachers I have practiced with, or any articles I have read on the subject, all agree that we hold our stress and negative emotions – fear, guilt, sadness – in our pelvis and hips. So it is extremely important to do poses that move prana (life force) through that area. One teacher even said once that “The pelvis is like the body’s junk drawer. Whenever you don’t know what to do with a feeling or experience, you put it there.”
While I certainly do feel frustration in hip openers, and know that this is a very tight part of my body, I had never had a particular emotional experience in any hip opening poses. But let’s just say that after that night, I totally get what all the hip-fuss is about.
This was exactly what I needed that night. And while I certainly had an emotional practice that began quite panicky and sad, slowly throughout the class I started to relax, my breathing deepened, and my focus completely centered. Isn’t that so amazing? Walking out of the studio I almost couldn’t believe how a short 90 minutes completely readjusted my attitude and simply made me feel just so much better.
I strongly encourage anyone who is having an anxious, sad, angry, or stressful day to go to a yoga class, open your hips, and release your pent up energy and emotions, refocus your mind, and I guarantee you will leave feeling completely released and free.
And then AFTERWARDS you can go indulge in that ice cream and wine
Good Hip Opening Poses
(that you can do in the comfort of your own home):
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon) Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose) Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby) or simply sitting cross legged, breathing deeply into your hip flexors
Sam Hall is a recent graduate of the Yogaspace Teacher Training program who specializes in Vinyasa and Hatha flow. Having been drawn to yoga initially to help deal with a stressful personal experience, yoga has now become an integral part of Sam’s daily life. It has not only opened her body but it has truly freed her mind, and she is extremely passionate about sharing this with any individual she works with. Sam hopes to inspire those beginner and advanced yogis alike to step out of their comfort zones and try something new!