Out of my comfort zone and into Padmasana – Anatomy of the hips

From a young age Westerners (like myself) are not used to sit on the floor in a cross-legged position, let alone sit in a Lotus position for a longer period of time. And because I have worked in an office for many many years doing a ‘sitting’ job my hips felt pretty tight and I am unable to sit in Padmasana.

To better understand how to ‘open up the hips’ and get mobility and stability in the hip joints the anatomy lessons were a great eye opener.

Sitting leads to shortened hip flexors including the iliopsoas also known as the psoas muscle (the iliopsoas is actually a combination of two large muscles: the psoas major and the iliacus) and weak hip extensors like the gluteus maximus and thus the feeling of that dreaded tightness.

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Because of better understanding of the anatomy I am able to come up with asanas that externally rotates the hip joints and stretches the iliopsoas. All to prepare myself trying to get into Padmasana.

For example; to stretch the iliopsoas I use Ustrasana (Camel pose), Utthita Trikonasana, (low) lunge pose and Virabhadrasana I. To either open up the hips, increase flexibility of hip joints and/or externally rotate the hip joints I follow up with Baddha Konasana (Butterfly pose), Paschimottanasana and Pigeon Pose.

And then, with patience and perseverance and a lot of the above asanas; I am able to come into Padmasana, but only for a very short time…. Ouch! More practice is needed 🙂


200hr YTT January 2017