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Happy Hips: Emotions of the Hips & Poses to Support Them




The stresses of everyday life, demanding jobs, and sitting for hours all take their toll on our hips. You may have heard that the hips are the “junk drawer” of the body or attended a yoga class where a teacher expressed that you may feel emotions arise in a deep hip stretch. Our muscles store unprocessed emotions. In this blog, we’ll touch on some of the emotions that may be stored in the hips and offer yoga poses to help move stagnant energy out of your hips. 


Anatomy Overview of the Hips


The hips are a complex joint structure that play a crucial role in supporting the body's weight, facilitating movement, and connecting the lower and upper body. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint formed by the acetabulum (socket) of the pelvis and the femoral head (ball) of the thigh bone. Surrounding this joint are various muscles and connective tissues that contribute to its stability and functionality.


Key components of the anatomy of the hips include:


  1. Bones:

  • Pelvis: The pelvic bones, including the ilium, ischium, and pubis, form the acetabulum, which receives the femoral head to create the hip joint.

  • Femur: The thigh bone connects to the pelvis at the hip joint.


  1. Joints:

  • Hip Joint: The ball-and-socket joint formed by the articulation of the femoral head and the acetabulum allows for a wide range of motion.


  1. Muscles:

  • Hip Flexors: Muscles that bring the thigh toward the abdomen.

Iliopsoas: Comprised of the iliacus and psoas major muscles.

Rectus Femoris: Part of the quadriceps muscle group.

  • Hip Extensors: Muscles that move the thigh backward.

Gluteus Maximus: The largest muscle in the buttocks.

Hamstrings: Include the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus muscles.

  • Hip Abductors: Muscles that move the thigh away from the midline.

Gluteus Medius and Gluteus Minimus: Located on the lateral ` aspect of the hip.

  • Hip Adductors: Muscles that bring the thigh toward the midline.

Adductor Longus, Adductor Brevis, Adductor Magnus, Gracilis, and Pectineus: Muscles located on the inner thigh.

  • Rotators: Muscles that aid in the rotation of the thigh.

Piriformis, Obturator Internus, Gemellus Superior, Gemellus Inferior, Quadratus Femoris: Deep muscles involved in hip rotation.


Understanding the anatomy of the hips and the major muscles involved is essential for addressing issues related to mobility, stability, and overall hip health. Regular exercise, stretching, and proper care contribute to maintaining optimal hip function.


Now let’s dive into the emotions of some of these major hip muscles.



Hip Flexors: Psoas

 

The psoas muscle, along with other hip flexors such as the iliacus, collectively known as the iliopsoas, plays a key role in hip flexion, allowing for the lifting of the thigh toward the abdomen. This action is essential for activities like walking, running, and climbing stairs, emphasizing the importance of the psoas and hip flexors in overall lower body mobility and posture.


A tight psoas muscle can lead to issues such as lower back pain, poor posture, and compromised hip flexibility, as it may contribute to an anterior pelvic tilt. Factors such as prolonged sitting, sedentary lifestyles, or improper exercise techniques can contribute to the tightening of the psoas, making it susceptible to shortening and increased tension.


Your psoas has a direct influence on your fight or flight response, and because of this, it may store unprocessed trauma. The energetic role of the psoas is to initiate forward movement & allow intimate or sensual body contact


Poses to Stretch the Hip Flexors:

  • Psoas stretch over a block

  • Anjaneyasana and variations, or Lunges

  • Virabhadrasana , or Warrior 1

  • Setu Bandhasana or Bridge Pose

  • Salamba Bhujangasana or Sphinx Pose



Hip Extensors: Gluteus Maximus


The gluteus maximus, as the primary hip extensor, is crucial for extending the hip joint, allowing movements like walking, running, and standing up. Its strength and activation also provide essential postural support, stability during weight-bearing activities, and contribute to power generation in activities such as jumping and sprinting.


These muscles are the largest in the human body and as such they're involved in a few different emotional roles. 

These include:

  • Strength to stand on one’s own

  • Ability to “forge ahead”, ie: move powerfully forwards & also stop forward movement 

  • Performance capacity & durability

  • Ability to take a fall

  • Sensual/sexual awareness

  • Boundaries ,

  • & Social signaling.


Poses to Stretch Gluteus Maximus:

  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or Pigeon Pose

  • Figure 4

  • Seated Leg Cradle

  • Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose 



Abductors: Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minimus, Piriformis & TFL


The hip abductors, including the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, piriformis, and tensor fasciae latae (TFL), play a crucial role in stabilizing the pelvis, maintaining balance, and facilitating lateral movement by lifting the thigh away from the midline of the body. 


While each of these muscles has its own unique energetics, they all share the emotional role of establishing personal boundaries and personal balance. They also play a role in sexual identity and may carry emotions related to sexuality. 


Poses to Stretch the Abductors:

  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or Pigeon

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana or Half Lord of the Fishes

  • Gomukhasana or Cow Face Pose

  • Figure 4 Pose



Adductors


The adductor group is comprised of:

  • pectineus

  • adductor brevis

  • adductor longus

  • adductor magnus

  • and the gracilis muscle


This group of muscles primarily functions to adduct the femur at the hip joint. They contribute to movements involving the inner thigh, bringing the thigh toward the midline of the body, and providing stability during activities such as walking, running, and lateral movements. 


The energetic role of these muscles involves intimacy, sensuality, and sexual contact and feelings. Sexual shame can be stored in these muscles.


Poses to Stretch the Adductors:

  • Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle Pose

  • Adho Mukha Mandukasana or Frog Pose

  • Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide Legged Forward Fold

  • Skandasana or Ninja Lunge

  • Uttan Pristhana or Lizard Lunge



Hip Rotators: Piriformis & Obturator Internus


The hip rotator muscles, including Piriformis, Obturator Internus, Gemellus Superior, Gemellus Inferior, Quadratus Femoris, are a group of muscles that rotate the hip joint. 


These muscles are situated deep within the pelvic region and contribute to the intricate movements involved in walking, running, and various athletic activities. Proper functioning of the hip rotators is essential for maintaining hip joint stability, ensuring balanced movement patterns, and preventing excessive stress on surrounding structures. 


While the piriformis was included above in the section on hip abductors, it’s included here as well since it’s one of the key muscles involved in hip rotation and is often considered one of the major hip rotators. While it may not be the largest muscle overall, its location and role in external rotation of the hip joint make it significant.


These deep muscles can hold a lot of unprocessed emotions and play various energetic roles. Emotions and energetics of the hip rotators include:

  • Sexual freedom

  • Sexual Identity

  • Sensual/sexual awareness

  • Erotic impulse

  • Right to self sexual pleasure

  • Personal boundaries

  • Autonomy

  • Personal Balance

  • Social Signaling

  • Internalized Shame

  • Sexual shame

  • Fear of loss of control


Some stretches for the hip rotators include:

  • Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or Pigeon Pose

  • Ardha Matsyendrasana or Seated Twist 

  • Figure 4 

  • Windshield Wipers

  • Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle Pose



The hips are complicated. And while they may be crowned as the “junk drawer” of the body, with yoga, journaling, therapy, establishing healthy boundaries and relationships, and addressing the emotions stored in the hips, we can clean out the junk drawer and experience what it means to have happy hips!


If you’d like to dive deeper into the emotions of the hips, check out our online course Happy Hips: Anatomy & Emotions of the Hips where we break down more about the anatomy of the hips, the energetics of the hips, and teach you how to effectively target these muscles to find freedom in your hips.







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