Hip Mobility Circles (video)

Tight hips & tight shoulders. In all of my 14+ years of teaching yoga and educating about movement, those two body parts have always been the places people complain the most about. I'm not surprised of course, as it is a reflection of our lifestyle and work habits. 

Improving mobility in your hips doesn't always mean stretching them or doing "hip openers" in yoga. It means you gotta move the legs to mobilize the hips. Often when we stretch the hips, we do it in a passive stretch. A passive stretch is where you use an external force to move your body. Such as using a strap, hand, gravity, your body weight. A passive hip opener in yoga would be Supta Padangustasana or the strap stretch. While it can feel amazing after you've done the strap stretch, you didn't necessarily improve your mobility in your hips and legs. To improve mobility we need to do more active stretching.

Active or resistance stretching requires more parts of you to move. Going back to the strap stretch example, the passive version is using the strap to bring my leg up to the ceiling. The active version is NOT using the strap and using your leg to bring your leg up to the ceiling. If that doesn't make sense, try it right now. You'll likely see that when you do the active version, your leg doesn't go quite as high as when you had the external help of the strap. Both active and passive stretches have their place, but again... if you want to improve mobility you need to work for it.

Which brings us to today's Movement Monday. Good old fashioned hip circles! But looks can be deceiving. The two variations in the tutorial will make many of the muscles large and small surrounding your hip joints wake up like never before. This hip mobility movement requires two things:

  • Keep your pelvis as still as possible when circling the leg. If you let your pelvis move, you are letting the pelvis and low back do some of the moving that your leg needs to do on its own. The less you can let the pelvis help, the more you will drive the movement into the joint. The more movement into the joint, the happier your joints will be.
  • Slow, controlled circles. If you go too fast you rely on momentum to move the leg. We want the muscles to work as much as they can as you circle your leg around. So go slow, be mindful while keeping the pelvis as still as possible.