Hip stability and mobility are important for the health of our spine and our entire body. The hips are the largest joints in our body and, along with the pelvis, form the critical connection between our upper and lower body. Improving the strength and flexibility of our hips can have beneficial effects on our yoga practice, our sports activities, and all of our movements in daily life.
Our modern lifestyles tend to be full of barriers to optimal hip health. Most of us spend a great deal of time sitting, which results in tight, shortened hip flexors combined with weak buttock muscles. Postural imbalances and gait disturbances, such as turned out feet (“duck walking”), can further serve to prevent ideal functioning of the hips.
Even among those of us who practice yoga, imbalances are common. Frequently in yoga practice we will tend to overemphasize certain directions of movement in the hips, such external rotation and abduction, which are involved in many of the classical standing poses. In addition, flexibility can tend to be overemphasized at the expense of stability, which is equally important. Flexibility that is not balanced by adequate strength can greatly increase the risk of joint instability and injury.
In Yoga Tune Up® (YTU), we perform movements that take the hip joints through all of their directions of movement: flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, internal rotation, external rotation, and circumduction. A combination of dynamic movements, static strength building poses, and passive stretches, all with a focus on safe and effective alignment, proper breathing, and a balance of mobility and stability, results in healthier, stronger, more flexible hips.
Another special feature of YTU is the inclusion of myofascial release techniques using the YTU therapy balls. Therapy ball work improves proprioception, creates awareness of blind spots and imbalances, and helps release tightness in muscles, fascia, and other connective tissues. By using self-massage techniques on the tissues surrounding the hip joints, we can effect noticeable improvements in their range of motion, and subsequently, in their ability to perform optimally in all of our activities.