The Remarkable Link Between Tight Hips and Your Emotions

It's the body's junk drawer.

The link between tight hips and your emotions pigeon pose yoga
Credit: iStock/Alexandra Iakovleva

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I’ve been to many a yoga class where the teacher has compared hips to the body’s junk drawer. It’s the place where we put emotions when we don’t know what else to do with them. It makes sense considering so many of us have tight hips and the pain that goes along with them. Let’s take a look at the connection.

Tight Hips: The Physical Side

Often times, people initially come to yoga because of physical pain. It’s only later that they get to enjoy all of the other emotional and spiritual benefits that go along with the practice. In our society, where we sit too much, at our desks, in front of the television, and in our cars, tight hips can take their toll. They can stem from a host of other issues including tightness in the quadriceps, inner thighs, hamstrings, lateral rotators, and psoas. In fact, lower back pain often stems from tight hips and buttocks muscles.

6 Things Tight Hips Say About Your Emotional Health

According to Lindsay Simmons, owner of Empower Healing, the tightness in hips aren’t just physical; it’s so much more than that. Simmons, a Jivamukti yoga teacher who also specializes in body work, sees the impact of the hips in her work constantly.

“The hips are emotionally charged, a place where we store some of our deepest vulnerabilities,” says Simmons.

1. You fear the future.

Simmons contends that the front of the hips, or the “front body” is where we face the future. Tight hips, psoas, and hip flexors can mean that we’re hesitant about facing the future. More specifically, we fear living up to our own expectations and those laid out by others. Whether it’s having the right job, right husband, perfect amount of kids, etc.

2. You fear relationships.

The hips are also a place where we store relationships of all kinds, argues Simmons. They’re especially linked to our romantic relationships. If you have tight hips you may be more skittish when it comes to falling in love. But we don’t just hold romantic energy in our hips, we hold business relationships there too. Having trouble at work? You may be holding that negative energy in your hips.

3. You have emotional or physical trauma.

Women who have recently gone through pregnancy and birth tend to have tight hips because it’s a place of physical and sometimes emotional trauma, says Simmons. The hips can take a beating during childbirth and as a result, afterwards, they tighten up. If something traumatic happens to you to cause tight hips, you may also be storing that negative energy in your hips.

4. The hips and your chakras.

The hips are located at the second chakra, also known as Svadhisthana. The second chakra is linked to sexuality, desire, pleasure, and procreation. When the second chakra is blocked it hinders our ability to let go and let it flow. You may have noticed that in deep hip openers, you have a tendency to clinch or hold on because you simply can’t fully open up to the posture.

5. You have an inability to love yourself.

I mentioned earlier that the hips are about relationships and it’s worth noting the most important relationship of all: the one you have with yourself. Tight hips may indicate an inability to fully open up, and more importantly, fully love yourself.

6. You hold onto the past.

While the front of the hips indicate a fear of the future, the back of the hips are linked to the past and our inability to let go of it. The back of the hips, which may include a tight lower back and glutes, mean that you may be too focused on the past, according to Simmons.

How to Open Up the Hips

  • Learn to sit with discomfort. When it comes to the hips, it’s all about learning to sit with discomfort. Just like we run away from the past and clinch up at the future, we tighten up when it comes to hip openers.
  • Breathe deeply. Create the space that you need in your hips by breathing deeply into the posture, especially when there’s discomfort.

6 Ways to Open Your Hips 

Work these simple yoga stretches and other essential tools into your daily wellness habits. 

Low lunge

The above video from shows the perfect form and technique for a low lunge. To start, step your right foot forward between your hands, making sure the right knee is over the heel. Lower your left knee to the mat, and release into the front of the hip. Hold and breathe, then switch sides. Try some of the multiple ways to transition to a low lunge featured in the video.

Pigeon pose

To do pigeon pose, start on all fours in a squared table pose. Bring the right knee toward the right hand. Angle your right knee to two o’clock, and release your left leg back as far as is comfortable. Hold and breathe, then switch sides. The above video tutorial from Abi Carver will help you master this technique; check out her channel for even more yoga vids. 

Reclining twist

The video above from Yoga with Adriene shows you precisely how to execute a reclining twist (and her videos have kept us company for many a lockdown workout!) For the reclining twist, first extend your left leg along the floor, then hug your right knee into your chest. Extend your right arm out to the side with your palms facing up. Shift your hips to the right, and place your left hand on the right side of the knee. Drop your right knee over the left side of your body. Hold and breathe.

Reclined cobbler’s pose

Also known as Supta Baddha Konasana, this restorative pose is good for relaxing tension in your shoulders and hips while reducing stress and anxiety. The video above from Manduka Yoga features the use of a yoga strap, yoga bolster, and yoga blocks.

Get a percussive massager 

Whether you want to optimize performance and recovery or just really need a massage to release those tight hip flexors, a percussive massager is a must-have wellness accessory. In the video above with Lissa Bankston, Therabody shows you how. Try working on your IT bands with a Theragun to loosen up those hips. 

Make foam rolling a daily habit 

If you don’t have a percussive massager, a good foam roller can be just as effective. Foam rollers are a great way to relieve muscle tension and soreness, not to mention improve flexibility and range of motion. Therabody’s Wave Roller is the perfect tool: a vibrating foam roller with five intensity settings. See how it’s done in the video above with Margi Resch for Gaiam Australia.

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