Hip openers with correct alignment for all levels. Understanding alignment is essential for safely unlocking the hips, and with careful instruction progress will be swift.
KNOWLEDGE OF ANATOMY
Knowledge of the gross and subtle anatomy of the hips is essential when working to open them safely.
HIP OPENERS AND SAFE KNEES
keeping the knees safe when working on hip openers is essential. Its easy to cause lateral rotation of the knee joint if correct alignment is not maintained. Keeping the calf and thigh squeezed tightly together, will ensure that the femur and tibia rotate as a single unit. This action prevents the knee from twisting, and encourages the head of femur to rotate in the acetabulum.
ARDHA BADDHA PADMASANA
Taking Ardha baddha padmasana as a working example of how to keep the knee safe, and ensure the hip joint is opened.
From standing lift the knee as high up as possible, and take hold of the foot. One hand supporting the ankle, and the other hand supporting the side of the foot with toes pointed.
Now lift the knee up and back, taking the heel to the groin above the navel. Let the leg and knee drop to the side at a right angle. Stay at this level if the knee and thigh feels tight*
Next allow the knee and bent leg to drop down, keeping the heel at the groin** No matter how far the knee drops, the heel must remain at the groin. As the hip opens the knee drops further, but the heel remains at the groin. You will know if the alignment is correct because the sole of the foot will start to look forwards. It is important that the knee and leg are not pushed down, as it might force the sacroiliac joint.
What you will find is, that the only movement that takes place is the femur rotates in the hip joint, the knee and ankle do not rotate.
*The action of lifting the knee up and back creates an outward rotation of the leg bone in the hip socket.
**The action of letting the knee drop causes an inward rotation of the leg bone in the hip socket.
One of the common reasons the knee will not drop, allowing the hip joint to open is tight quadriceps. Sitting on blocks in Vajrasana will start this process, along with any stretch that lengthens the thigh muscle.
HIP OPENERS AND THE ASHTANGA PRIMARY SERIES
*/**These actions are vital to the opening of the hips, and they are repeated over and over in all the postures in the Ashtanga Primary series. Take stepping into Trikonasana for example. The right leg steps back and to the side, which is an outward rotation of the leg. Once in position, to ensure the knee, shin and thigh all stay in line, there is an inward rotation of the leg.
YOGA DHARMA TRAINING OPTIONS