There’s a moment in a yoga class that can make a bunch of us want to run out of the door. It’s that point towards the end of class when the teacher guides you into Frog Pose—or some other horribly effective hip opening position—and then invites you in a casual way to simply ‘stay and breathe.’
The tone of their voice suggests that the experience is going to be pleasant. However, you know that pleasure is in the pelvis of the beholder, and on your mat there’ll likely be more grimace than grin.
Hip openers are up there with wheatgrass and Brussels sprouts; the taste may be a little bitter but, the after effects of these yoga gems are so good for us that we keep coming back for more. Here are four reasons we love to hate hip opening yoga poses.
1. They bring up resistance.
For most people, hip openers result in resistance, in both the physical body and the mind.
It’s important to respect the point of resistance in the physical body. Time and breath may offer us more depth in poses, though we may also find that our unique anatomy has unique limitations and pushing past them could result in injury. That said, internal resistance is very different.
Our minds may respond to hip opening poses with thoughts like “I hate this,” “yoga sucks,” or “this teacher is rubbish,” but it’s incredible how quickly those thoughts can dissipate when we meet that resistance with acceptance, love, and most importantly, breath.
2. They get into our minds and emotions.
Emotional tension can be held in the physical body, with the hips being one of the most common physical storehouses.
Relating mainly to our lower chakras, the hips can carry stress and tension from the fundamental areas of our life such as relationships, work, finances, our health, and how we feel about our physical body.
You know that fight you had with your partner last month, when you held it together and didn't shout at them? Yep, those feelings are probably hanging around in your hips. Or when you moved house or started a new job and stayed calm on the surface but were freaking out on the inside?
Yep it’s probably lurking around your pelvis region. Hold Frog Pose or Pigeon for a few minutes and bam, it can all come to the surface. Eek.
3. Running away doesn't really work in yoga.
If you’ve spent your entire life avoiding discomfort and difficulty, then your first instinct during a challenging yoga pose will probably be to run away and escape.
Unless you want to pack up your mat and walk out of the room, there’s pretty much nowhere to go in a yoga class, so we usually end up staying and hanging out with our discomfort. Of course, the support of the teacher kindly reminding us to breathe definitely helps. But still...
4. We sit down way too much.
Modern life is not conducive to happy hips. Our “sitting” culture has a big impact on our posture and on our movement.
Firstly, many of us spend an entire day sitting at a desk. Then we hop into our car, or a bus, train, or bike, and sit as we commute home for an evening sitting on the couch watching TV. All that sitting can make your hips really stiff and reduce mobility and freedom in and around your pelvis.
That alone can make Frog Pose your nemesis.
No doubt about it, hip opening poses can yank our chains. Yet while they are often our least favourite poses, they are also often our most beloved because simply put, they work.
The freedom they provide us with both physically and emotionally is worth the effort, and more often than not, we leave the hip opening experience feeling a whole lot lighter. And that’s a pretty good reason to keep practicing them.