Each month at the yoga collective we like to work to a theme, to help our students find a focus and to develop their practice. This month our focus is on our hips. Tight hips affect everything from your ability to get into Wheel pose to simply being able to pick up something off the floor. When hips are tight, they increase the load and cause overuse of the spine. In addition to the benefits of improved range of motion and circulation and decreased back pain, opening the hips can create an energetic shift or release as well. Yogic tradition holds the hips as a storage ground for negative feelings and pent-up emotions, especially ones related to control in our lives. Hip-opening can also create space for the birth of new ideas and new pathways. Opening the hips gives us access to freedom in the body and in our own unique expression — creatively, physically, sexually, and spiritually.
Within the Chakra System, hips and the element water is associated with Svadhistana — the second chakra, housed within the pelvis. It represents our emotions, desires, raw creative energy, and sense of pleasure. Just as the ocean’s tides are pulled by the Moon, the Moon governs the water element within us. Svadhistana is experienced through the colour orange, the sense of taste, and the vibrations of its seed sound, “vam.” When out of balance, second chakra blockages manifest through mental and physical stiffness (particularly within the hips + low back), guilt or shame, health issues impacting the reproductive system, or a restricted sense of being able to fully feel, express, or release emotions, or enjoy life’s pleasures.
In yoga philosophy, water rituals correspond to the practice of Saucha. As expressed by Nischala Joy Devi in Yoga Sutra 2.40, “Through simplicity and continual refinement (Saucha), the body, thoughts, and emotions become clear reflections of the Self within.”
The water element brings flow into our lives and clears areas of stagnation that are blocking the expression of our true nature. Through the process of ritual, water helps us bring to the surface and honour yet ultimately let go of that which is no longer serving us. Water, in this sense, returns us to the divine flow while creating a sense of renewal and re-direction of energy.