I don’t remember when and why my right hip started refusing to open. I just realized one day that I can no longer do Lotus pose or Padmasana, or even a simple Baddha Konasana, decently. I attempted many times but failed miserably. Any asana that involved going to a half lotus pose, a combination of external rotation of the right hip, bending of the knee and placing the foot on the left hip crest, is a mission impossible. My right hip became my nemesis.
When I enrolled in Yoga Teacher Training Course, I knew I could not do many challenging poses. But I kept a tiny glimmer of hope that maybe I’d be able to. But I was more doubtful than hopeful. Two weeks into the course, and many failed attempts to complete Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana, my teacher told me I can do it. It was declared with such confidence and encouragement. It was music to my ears.
My teacher then asked me to perform a hip opening exercise on my right hip–the Hindolasana or Cradle Pose. This pose involves external rotation of the hip. I rocked side-to-side a few times, and focused on stretching my hamstrings, pelvic floor muscles, groins, and gluteus maximus muscles. I then held my calf and pulled my leg closer to my face until I could kiss my foot, and then moved my right foot closer to my right ear. The stretch was intense, and it felt good.
Moment of truth…
I extended both legs to sit in Dandasana. I bent my right knee and externally rotated my hip, held my right foot and placed it on my left hip crest to half lotus pose. I gently navigated my right knee to point forward and pushed it slightly, so it lowered down to the mat. It was not far down but it was good enough. It felt like I released a “lock”. I felt the ball on my thighbone rolled in the socket of my hip joint. It’s the same kind of rolling that you feel when you shift your weight on one leg and hinge your hip to the side. I even heard a faint “tok” sound. There went my hip.
Mindful of my breathing, I lengthened my spine, and reached as high as I can with my right arm towards the ceiling and rotated my torso to the right, as far back as I can then internally rotated my right shoulder behind my waist to attempt to hold my right toes. And I did! I was close to completing the pose! I kept my focus and tried my best to lengthen my spine as I raised my left arm to the ceiling. Slowly, I folded forward from my hips with my spine straight and grasped my left foot. I could feel my classmates’ jaws dropped as they watched me in Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana.
It was unbelievable! I was ecstatic! Me, accomplishing a pose that I never thought possible because of my locked hip, is proof that understanding how your joints and muscles work, is key to conquering asanas. That day, I achieved a milestone.
Was I able to do it again? No. But at least I know it’s possible. I just need to practice diligently and turn my nemesis to a friend. It will take a while, but I am patient.