The most common request heard by yoga teachers is “hip openers, please!”. After all, students come to yoga most of the time after sitting. For hours on end. They feel the need to stretch out the stiffness.
If you teach yoga, know this: sitting is a passive stretch.
As you sit, most of the posterior muscles of your hips are on a constant stretch. If you sit in one place long enough, your hips will feel stiff. More passive stretching — in the name of “opening the hips” — doesn’t necessarily equate to hip freedom and mobility. (Similarly, achieving lotus pose does not equal peace of mind).
A frequent topic of discussion in our Yoga Anatomy Online Mentorship: your skeleton pre-determines most of your hip range of motion. The depth and orientation of your acetabulum – the hip socket – will set your body’s hip “opening” limits, pushing past those can contribute to boney changes like FAI, labral tears, early osteoarthritis, and more.
Instead of assuming that students need passive stretching, we invite you to reimagine hip opening as active movement and strengthening instead.
Sure, you can still nod and say “ok” to the requests, but try offering strengthening into a wide variety of positions of the hips, from basic to challenging and see what happens.
Need ideas? Watch this new video showing one simple way to do just that. (More videos will be on their way).
This shows strengthening for iliopsoas, or psoas, your main hip flexor muscle(s):
Pure stretching alone may give you added mobility, but it is happening on borrowed time. Sustainable mobility must involve strength, and we are here for you to make that revolution possible in the world of yoga.
Please comment below with any questions or ideas you have!