If you have ever experienced a sense of aching hip joints or pain in your buttocks you may have an imbalance in your hip flexors. This often happens from sitting too long or from a lack of strength on one side of your body.
Our hip flexors are very easily affected by stressful situations and the body is designed to flex us forward into a fetal position as a protective response. We often don't even realize our body is doing this flexion pattern as it is hardwired into our mind-body connection by the nervous system.
One important thing to keep in mind is that in order for the muscles that flex to bring our thighs toward our torso to fully release and lengthen, the muscles on the back of the body must have strength and fluidity to support them. If we hold chronic tension in our hip flexors our body is reflecting something in our mind that is ready to be addressed. Even if we are not aware of the thought pattern or movement imbalance that is causing the discomfort we can practice mindful movement to assist in regaining greater range of motion. Remember -our body is designed to move. Through gentle, nurturing movement we can begin to release the tension in the hips and buttocks, create strength in the muscles that support the hip flexors, and regain a sense of balance and resiliency in our pelvis, hips, legs and lower back.
So, how can we safely begin to move that provides relief and retrains our body, especially if we are experiencing issues with our feet, knees or hips? First of all, we gently begin to move the joints that are affected, and second we begin to strengthen the muscles that cross those joints and support them.
This video is a seated practice to find more sense of spaciousness and ease in the hip flexors.
PART ONE is a 2-part warm-up that gradually introduces more range of motion into the front of each hip while engaging muscles in the buttocks, torso and thigh that support the movement of extension on the front of the hips. This warm-up is not only for the hips, but also for retraining the mind to focus on body awareness while the brain begins to literally rewire itself to support greater flexibility and ease in the hip joint.
PART TWO is a seated version of the forward facing lunge posture nicknamed "Warrior 1" in yoga. Warrior posture is a standing lunge with the front knee bent and the back leg extended long with the heel firmly planted on the ground. Although there is flexion in the front hip where the knee is bent, the back leg is extended so that the hip flexors in front are very elongated with the buttocks and hamstring muscles on the back of the leg flexed to support that elongation.
Once that both hip joints are warmed up we gradually introduce the action of shifting weight onto both feet while still seated in order to strengthen the muscles in the back leg. This supports the extension of the hip flexors on that side. Practicing this "warrior" posture strengthens the back of the body so that the front of the body can be free to fluidly open and assist us in facing and embracing both the obstacles and opportunities in everyday life.
I recommend that you use a straight chair with a hard seat that is very stable and to be sure to use pillows/blankets, etc. as shown in the video to support your body. And never push yourself to move outside of your authentic range of motion - be gentle with yourself as you explore this process.
Always be mindful of your body and only move within your current range of motion on each side, with a sense of curiosity and non-judgment about what you are experiencing. Remember, the body is constantly changing and often does not have equal range of motion or strength on both sides so nurture yourself with a kind and gentle approach.
PLEASE NOTE: On any day when you are not up for doing Part Two"Warrior 1" posture on one or both sides, then rewind to Part One and repeat the warm-ups again. And it's always find to pause the video and do a few more repetitions of the warm-ups if you desire.
Blessings on your journey. ~Catherine Siri Sat Liska
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