Yoga is for everyone!
I appreciate the hips and pelvis much more now that I have suffered through a period of sacral instability followed by a long rehabilitation with Yoga Therapy. I now feel so much more stable in my SI joints and my balance is better than it has ever been. If you feel clicking and grinding noises in your pelvis, hips, or sacroilliac joints (where the sacrum meets your hip bones), if you have periods of intense sciatica, then keep reading - you are in good company.
My problems started five years ago, but the conditions had been sown long before that after an injury to my left knee has made it impossible for me to hyper-extend that leg at the knee joint. My bad habit of locking my knees when standing has led to the slight drift of the left hip forward, introducing an imbalance into the way I carry my pelvis.
Add to this the trauma of pregnancy and childbirth (twice in close succession that has left my pelvic ligaments overstretched and the SI joint hyper-mobile), plus years of carrying a child on one hip (the left one, so I could keep my right hand free to do stuff), plus my near-obsession with crossing my legs when I sit, plus many years of Yoga practice with too much emphasis on stretching the hips and not enough emphasis on strengthening them (because no matter how flexible you get, it never "feels" like enough), and the perfect storm was pretty much guaranteed. Our Yoga culture with its quest for "opening" everything, and hips being the favorite area of the body to "open" (just Google and be amazed at all the hip opening advice and practice out there!), as well as my own state of ignorance (avidya) was the perfect trap.
Avidya is defined in the Yoga Sutras as "regarding the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and the non-Self as the Self" (Pada 2, Sutra 5 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali).
It has taken about ten years for the problem to become acute, but eventually I developed sacral instability - my sacroilliac joint would sometimes "slip" and "jam", putting pressure on my sciatic nerve, rendering me unable to move and screaming in pain. Yeah.
My Yoga Therapist recommended a practice to strengthen my core that helped but did not eliminate the problem. The near-constant discomfort went away, but I still would have a severe episode about once a year, usually triggered by lifting something heavy. I do have abs of steel, if I say so myself, but it slowly dawned on me that core strength is not enough, that helpful as it may be, it is only a piece of a much bigger puzzle. And so my investigation begun into what I could do to resolve this issue once and for all. Healer, heal thyself!
In this quest I have learned what patience is, how to let go of my attachment (aparigraha) to hip openers and twists that I used to indulge in daily (like the pictures on this page), how I no longer sit cross-legged for hours on the floor, how frustrating my habit of crossing my legs is and how difficult it is to break it (still working on that), but in the end I have been rewarded with a sense of accomplishment and new appreciation of how adaptable the body is. It is our curse and our salvation at the same time.
And now I am slowly re-introducing back into my practice, one at a time, the things that have contributed to my problem with a new understanding that I need to be judicious in their application, that I need to follow up these twists/asymmetrical poses with lots and lots of strengthening and symmetrical ones to balance them out. My new mantra became "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should." My work is by no means finished. I think it is going to be a life-long quest for me, but I can think of no other pursuit more worthy of my time.
Below is my new "medicine" for my hips, I hope it is helpful to others. It is by no means the complete course of treatment that I have used, but it is a great first step in the right direction. If you need further instruction or guidance, reach out to a Yoga Therapist that you trust. The following practice is wonderful for all of us who sit a lot (and who doesn't sit too much these days, right?), as it helps to increase circulation to the pelvis and hips and deepen your awareness of what is going on "down there". Enjoy!
Thank you for writing this and making this video just for me!! ??
You are not alone! I hear you, and I will work hard to help.
This video is really helping me to strengthen the pelvic muscles that have become weak over time. I only wish I had started these exercises a long time ago.