One of many seldom-explored guidelines within the yoga world is the decree that we must always by no means transition between a “closed hip” and an “open hip” place, and not too long ago proponents and opponents of the transition have turn out to be louder.
As college students and lecturers, we every have a private, typically unstated notion of what conduct or alignment in yoga is taken into account proper or fallacious, good or dangerous, secure or unsafe. Once we look at the talk critically, we see that there are layers of nuance to the query.
What does “closed hip” and “open hip” even imply?
Closed-hip positions are these wherein your hips are dealing with ahead, that means the fronts of your thighs orient in the identical path because the entrance of your pelvis. Think about postures similar to Utkatasana (Chair Pose), Ashta Chandrasana (Excessive Lunge), and Virabhadrasana III (Warrior 3). On this place, the hips are internally rotated towards impartial–what we contemplate closed.
Open-hip positions are these wherein one or each of your hip joints are externally rotated and never in alignment with each other. These embrace postures like Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2), Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose), and Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose), wherein the fronts of the thighs rotate outward and away from the entrance of the pelvis in order that it faces a distinct path than the opposite hip. That is thought of an open hip.
The priority behind the “forbidden” kind of transition is that rotating from one hip place to the opposite whereas the hip joint is bearing physique weight—for instance, from Excessive Lunge or Warrior 1 to Warrior 2 or from Warrior 3 to Half Moon—holds an unacceptably excessive degree of threat.
Potential dangers of closed-hip to open-hip transitions
Yoga transitions generally might be difficult. It’s one factor to create a steady joint place if you end up static. It’s one other to keep up deep muscular help round a joint whereas transferring.
Once we discover this specific kind of transition from closed to open hips in larger element, the potential dangers which can be typically cited embrace:
Grinding within the hip socket
The motion is claimed to regularly put on away the cartilage that cushions the top of the femur (thigh bone) in its socket, the acetabulum.
The transferring bones are stated to probably pinch close by buildings between them, whether or not the joint capsule, the cartilage lip (or labrum) that surrounds the hip socket, or deep ligaments, tendons, and muscle mass.
When one or each of the sacroiliac (SI) joints create a slight twist within the sacrum in relation to the shifting pelvis, the unnatural place could cause irritation within the joint or surrounding buildings.
Over time, rotational stress on the femur is theorized to result in the potential for stress fractures, particularly within the comparatively narrow-angled neck between the principle shaft of the femur and the ball at its head.
Is there fact to the hype?
Danger is never absolute. It often exists on a continuum. Any motion follow holds some potential for damage. But if we have a look at the continuum for bodily exercise, something we do in yoga—wherein we transfer pretty slowly, mindfully even, with physique weight as our solely load—will incur far much less threat than actions that contain velocity, increased hundreds, leaping, fast adjustments of velocity or path, and potential for falls.
In truth, we transition between hip positions in on a regular basis life with none concern of harm to the hip or SI joints. Think about standing in your kitchen, turning between the range and the sink, inadvertently altering the orientation of your pelvis in relation to 1 or each of your hips alongside the way in which. You in all probability do this on a regular basis with out rigorously repositioning your toes.
Provided that our hips are tailored to pretty excessive mobility whereas weight-bearing, it’s in all probability secure to imagine that almost all of us can transfer between positions like these with out incident, each in yoga and in life. Though it’s doable that on a random day this transition may irritate your hip, sacrum, or knee, absolutely the threat is pretty low.
Nevertheless among the particular yoga transitions in query shift barely additional alongside the chance continuum. Transferring from Warrior 3 to Half Moon, for instance, requires us to make use of near our full vary of movement within the standing hip. We’re much less practiced on this Once we try and transition from this fairly precarious balancing place, we’d like some measure of neurological management to keep up a steady joint place but we’re much less practiced on this particular motion. After which we up the ante by loading all of our physique weight onto that hip.
The reverse transition, from the “open hip” of Half Moon to the “closed hip” of Warrior 3, has the potential to extend the load additional by including the momentum of gravity. In both model of the transition, our focus might be much less on hip stability than on making an attempt desperately to keep up our stability.
Right here’s the factor about bodily stress…
The chance of damage is nowhere close to as excessive on the yoga mat as in different bodily actions; even driving holds the potential for a crash. Nevertheless, it’s definitely doable to think about these actions putting some degree of stress on the hip joint, particularly if the transition is new to us or we’re far sufficient right into a bodily difficult follow that the muscle mass supporting the joint have begun to fatigue.
Right here’s the factor, although: stress doesn’t routinely equal injury. In truth, our our bodies adapt to emphasize by changing into stronger, offered the stress is within the applicable dose. Inadequate stress can result in atrophy. Extra stress can result in overwhelm. However the degree of stress that approaches our capability with out exceeding it really triggers optimistic diversifications: our bones and tender tissues lay down extra supportive collagen fibers and our nervous system turns into primed to soak up and reply to new data, changing into extra environment friendly the following time we encounter an analogous problem.
How a lot stress is an excessive amount of? Effectively, that relies upon. Your capability is particular person to you—an element of your distinctive anatomy, physiology, historical past, even psychology. How shut does this pose come to your distinctive finish vary? How elastic are your tender tissues? What affect do your hydration or hormone ranges have in your tender tissues in the present day? Are you coming into follow fatigued from different pursuits? How practiced are you on this motion? What’s your perceived degree of consolation or stress?
So, can I transition from Warrior 3 to Half Moon?
In a gaggle yoga class, the place people range broadly, you possibly can perceive why it’s straightforward to fall again on easy guidelines like “at all times” and “by no means.” However straightforward doesn’t equal correct. On the degree of our particular person follow, security will not be assured by blindly following guidelines, particularly ones that we don’t perceive.
Whereas it’s doable for a yoga transition—whether or not it’s a one-off motion or repeated over time—to result in damage, the chance of that consequence will depend on an equation that’s distinctive to every of us.
The treatment, as is so typically the case with the follow of yoga, is curiosity and self-reflection. If the transition from Warrior 3 to Half Moon seems like an excessive amount of in your hip joint, there are many different methods to discover the motion between “closed hip” and “open hip” positions to evaluate whether or not they really feel secure for you.
Easy methods to (safely) follow the transition
The next are less-intense alternate options in which you’ll discover how the motion from Warrior 3 to Half Moon feels for you.
Cut back your vary of movement
How does it really feel while you stand upright, dealing with the entrance of the mat, with gently bent knees—a touch of Chair Pose—after which take a small step again to land together with your foot barely turned out in one thing that hints at Goddess Pose? If that feels snug and pure, take a look at out whether or not the expertise adjustments as you inch towards a large stance, with deeper flexion in your knees and your hip. Even the dreaded Warrior 3 to Half Moon transition can really feel markedly completely different together with your torso and again leg solely inclined fairly than leaning all the way in which horizontal to the mat.
Cut back the load
How does it really feel to cut back the load, or physique weight, in your standing hip? You in all probability already do an analogous motion as Warrior 3 to Half Moon with none physique weight in Supta Padagusthasana (Reclining Hand-to-Massive-Toe Pose). On this supine hamstring stretch, you progress from the “closed hip” place of lifted leg stacked above your pelvis to an “open hip” place the place the lifted leg strikes out to the aspect. If the motion itself feels advantageous, perhaps your resolution to the standing model of the pose is to share the load between your toes fairly than burdening a single leg. You would possibly strive a model of Warrior 3 wherein you retain your again toes on the mat or contact them down earlier than you transition. Hold them there as you rotate your hips right into a model of Half Moon together with your again toes nonetheless grounded. You’ll be able to then elevate your again foot in Half Moon in the event you like.
How does it really feel while you decelerate throughout this transition? Typically all we have to create and preserve muscular help round a joint is time and a spotlight. Quite than going by means of the motions when you’re speeding to maintain up with an externally imposed tempo, do that throughout your private follow. Supply your self as a lot time as you could transfer mindfully.
Possibly which means making a delicate elevate out of your full vary of movement in a single pose earlier than transferring to the following one (see “Cut back Your Vary of Movement” above). Possibly it means inserting extra poses alongside the way in which: From Warrior 3, strive evenly stepping again to Excessive Lunge, then slowly opening to Warrior 2, after which shifting easily ahead into Half Moon. That is in the end the identical transition however taken extra slowly, with out the necessity for impeccable stability, and with much less weight on the becoming a member of of your standing leg.
To sum, closed-hip to open-hip transitions are typically decrease threat than lots of the different issues we do in life, particularly after we transfer mindfully in a spread of movement over which we’ve got various management. However that’s not the entire story. It’s tempting to depend on fast solutions, black-and-white guidelines that substitute the necessity for private inquiry. However that’s not what yoga is about, whether or not we’re speaking about asana or different points of the custom of yoga. Nearly each query we convey to our follow is more likely to be answered by an extended exploration that begins with “it relies upon,” whether or not that query pertains to yoga transitions or one thing way more philosophical.
About our contributor
Rachel Land is a Yoga Drugs teacher providing group and one-on-one yoga periods in Queenstown New Zealand, in addition to on-demand at Apply.YogaMedicine.com. Passionate in regards to the real-world utility of her research in anatomy and alignment, Rachel makes use of yoga to assist her college students create power, stability, and readability of thoughts. Rachel additionally co-hosts the brand new Yoga Drugs Podcast.