Yoga Hips – Most Misunderstood Pose

Posted by on Mar 12, 2014 in Teaching Tips | 0 comments

Yoga Hips – Most Misunderstood Pose

Keep your Hips Joints Healthy

It has long been understood by medical professionals that the first movement of the hip joint to be lost is the ability to externally rotate the thigh in the hip socket. This loss of rotation indicates the beginning of degeneration of the hip joints. As we are taught in the Iyengar method, Virabhadrasana II is a foundational pose to create external rotation and healthy hips.

A successful Virabhadrasana II remains challenging for most students in two distinct ways. The most obvious way is that the shortness and power of the inner thigh muscles inhibit the opening of the inner leg, the first action needed in this pose. Because we were originally quadrupeds, our inner thighs are built strong, but prolonged sitting shortens these muscles, which increases the difficulty of this pose.

The second challenge, especially for women, is the lack of tone of the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominal muscles. Without enough lift of the pelvic floor and lower abdominal organs, the lower back loses support, which allows the pelvis to tip forward. This forward tip   diminishes the space between the head of the femur bone and the bony ridge of the acetabulum, which forms the socket of the hip joint. In order to not bump bone against bone, it is important to completely externally rotate the front thigh in the socket until the buttock flesh actually drops. When the buttock flesh drops and the lower abdominal organs lift, then the expansion of the front hip is possible in a healthy way. Externally rotating the front thigh in Virabhadrasana II means turning the thighbone in the hip socket until the ball at the top of the thigh bone “seats” in the center of the socket.

The Challenge of Understanding
Many yoga teachers in various styles teach students to square their hips to the front of the room before “seating” the head of the femur bone. This one instruction can lead to hip and knee problems by jamming bone against bone in the hip, which forces the soft tissue of the joint capsule to stress and sometimes tear, as noted in the New York Times article of November 8, 2013. As a result, hip replacements among female yoga practitioners is on the rise.

Watch this video of mine to learn the best way to practice this pose!

A Way to Practice
Start with your feet wide apart and your arms extended, with your ankles under your wrists. If you feel unsteady with your legs this wide apart, stand with your back at the wall. Turn your back foot in halfway by pivoting on your heel.

Rotate your whole front leg and foot out 90 degrees to point sideways, allowing your hips to turn so they face the same direction as the back foot.

Move the inner groin of the back leg back to the center of the pelvic floor, and then draw your abdominal organs in and up until you feel your tailbone drop.

As you bend the front knee to 90 degrees, keep turning your top thigh out and under. Again lift your abdominal organs in and up from the top of the pubic bone.

Next comes the opening action:

Coiling your front hip and groin forward while turning the knee back, begin to open the opposite hip as much as possible. Think of the hinge on the gate: the front hip and groin are the hinge and the opposite hip is the gate that swings open.

Root down into both feet and lift your pelvic floor. Dynamically extend your arms as well as your legs.

Success in this pose can be measured by the ease of the bend of the front leg and the firmness of the base of both sides of the buttocks.

Blessings on your practice!  Namaste- Lillah           Watch this video of mine to learn the best way to practice this pose!

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