Why Should We Open Our Hips In Yoga And Lengthen Our Hamstrings?

October 2, 2018

Transcript of: Why should we open our hips in yoga and lengthen our hamstrings?

Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month and of course you can always submit your own question: yoganatomy.com/myquestion. This month’s question is about why we open our hips in yoga.

The Question:

This question comes from Predrag.
“Hi David, hope you are well. From the anatomical point of view, what benefit do we have (other than becoming able to do certain Ashtanga postures) from forcing our body to, say, come to double pigeon, or baddha konasana? Why is it good to have our hips “open”, as we say, [or] to have our hamstrings elongated?”

The Answer:

A good question. I don’t typically recommend forcing our body to do double pigeon, baddha konasana, or any of those other things, by the way. I don’t think that’s a good suggestion. If, dare I say, your teacher is suggesting that. But, it brings up a general question. It’s kind of like, why are we doing this practice? Right, like, what are we opening our body for? What is the purpose of all of that? So, I mean, ultimately we’re opening the tissues in our body, including when we open our hips in yoga, so that we’re comfortable in it, mostly for sitting, particularly sitting for meditation, which should be sort of the next direction of practice, either pranayama or meditation, and that kind of stuff. So, it’s partly just for that.

Now we can get a little bit more specific and tie it back to that. The reason we want to open our hips in yoga as much as possible, and maybe as much as necessary for us to sit comfortably, is because when we say “hips”, what do we mean? The two that you mentioned, double pigeon and baddha konasana are both about external rotation of the hips, which is very important for being able to sit for long periods of time comfortably.

The hamstrings elongated are also related to the hips, right, because the hamstrings cross the hip joint. Overall, when the hips are as we say, open, what we’re really saying is that the pelvis is free. And with the pelvis being free, and this comes from the glutes, the adductors, and even the hamstrings, to set the pelvis up in a way, why, because the spine sits on top of the pelvis. And so, if you want your spine to be elongated for sitting and meditation, the more open your hips are, the easier the foundation is put in the right place, and therefore the spine sitting on top of it.

To me, that’s really the reason to open our hips in yoga. Alright? I hope that answered your question. Anybody else, if you’ve got a question, of course, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion
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