My hips speak volumes…but not in words. They speak in tears, in silence, in smiles. They express in a realm of feeling, not thought. If the language of the head is words, and that of the heart is love, then the language of the hips is raw emotion. Our attitudes and emotions are reflected in our movements, which originate in the hips (as any martial artist, dancer, or athlete can tell you). This may seem like some lavender New Age crap to the uninitiated, but consider this:
-When someone is uptight, we call them a tight-ass. We can see it in their walk -tension in the hips, rigid style of walking betraying rigid mind and heart.
-When someone is relaxed and happy, they walk differently.Their walk is relaxed, and their hips swing freely. Your gait is somehow different right after a session of passionate and fulfilling lovemaking, right?
-When a dancer has soul, they move freely, their hips leading the way as the rest of their body follows naturally. When a dancer doesn’t, it is obvious: no matter how fluidly the rest of them moves, their overall actions look stiff, from rigid hips.
Yes, hips have a language of their own. They speak to me. If I am worried or uptight, I get a case of the tightass – quite literally. The piriformis muscle in my ass tightens, pushing on my sciatic nerve and causing pain and reduced mobility. How do I know this? It is obvious to the least sensitive body, if one performs pigeon pose. The experience is tangibly different if we perform the pose in an uptight mood or a relaxed one. This is a direct reflection of the state of our hips and state of our hearts and minds, demonstrated in the physical realm, through simple and direct bio-mechanics
So it will be hard to truly tell tales from the hips in words. Tales of the hips are told in tears and laughter, as I said.
When I was young, us children ‘got the belt’ if we were ‘bad’ (typically translated as just being kids). At the time (or in retrospective) I didn’t think it was that unusual. Everyone got the belt, right? It wasn’t until years later that I saw this as the child abuse it was. I mean, your primary caregiver beating you, your father intentionally causing you pain? Come on…
It wasn’t until years later that I reconnected with that energy, with the emotions and responses associated with that abuse. I recalled tensing my ass in anticipation of the leather belt across my young butt…every one of the many muscles in the hip and pelvis girdle, in my gluteus. Some of them are undoubtedly still tensed, as evidenced by my performance in many yoga poses.
Some of that emotion still resides there as well, in spite of the huge amount I’ve already released. Fear, confusion, betrayal. Pain…outright suffering. Alienation and marginalization. See how those stored emotions were also interwoven with attitudes, such as resentment of authority figures who would beat me, an innocent (well, relatively innocent, surely too innocent to be beaten) child? This of course not only lodged in my hips, but stuck in my mind and clogged my heart as well. It festered into rage and fury, anger. It surfaced later, damaging or destroying key relationships in my life.
The resonance of those feelings propagated down over the years, tightening not only my hips, heart and attitude, but also my soul, limiting my personal growth and development. Yeah, my dad was a prick, a mean bastard, and he almost turned me into one. In fact, he did (or I let him) for a while. Maybe he was trying to toughen me up…it sure worked. No one fucked with me – opponents, bosses, lovers. That was not a good thing, as those on the other side of my fury could attest. It kept people from ‘fucking with me,’ but it also kept them from loving me. This fury echoed through my life, like an evil virus of hate and anger. It has hurt not just me, but by proxy and extension, many others.
I have since forgiven my father, for he probably didn’t know better. He was a Neanderthal in a land and time of Neanderthals. Maybe that seemed appropriate at the time. Maybe he could conceive no other way to resolve issues. He grew up in the south sides of Boston and Chicago, in the Irish ghettos. That may have been necessary there…or seemed so. Being tough and full of fury most likely kept people from messing with you. It worked – no one messed with him. He died alone, a mean fucker to the end.
Well, in these times such anger is not only uncool, it is totally unacceptable. It is the root of many of our world’s problems. A lot of people in my generation got the belt. Now they are in charge, and acting out their rage, their childhood lessons that power is any type of solution. They try to give the world the belt. They think force is the answer, and that their rage can accomplish something, when in fact it just alienates people and nations, causes wars, pain, and suffering.
I am so thankful I have learned (or am learning) to release this, to transform that rage to love and compassion. I am so glad to release these memories and emotions from my hips. Without yoga, I am not sure this would have been possible. It is impossible when operating from the head. As I move down into the heart and hips, it becomes not only possible, but natural.
Yes the language of the hips is emotion, feeling. They respond to it. Just as hate and anger and pain lodged there, now love and compassion have a home, now I’ve faced, embraced, and gently evicted the negative emotions and mindfully replaced them with positive ones. This often starts in yoga with the physical presence there – in learning to sense and rest in that tension, to quit running from it and face it, with strength and vulnerability and acceptance and compassion.
Eventually, something releases, if we can just stay present long enough. Following this physical release is emotional release, attitudinal release. This allows space to be created, space for healing and growth, for change and transformation, for both physical and personal flexibility. As things relax, the kundalini, the shakti, the nectar begins to flow up the spine. The voided spaces begin to fill with love, replacing those outmoded and useless emotions and resultant tension. As the energy begins to flow, the head and heart and hips are united, integrated, yoked together. This is the definition of yoga…union…integration, yoking or harnessing.
Yoga speaks the language of the hips. Yet yoga is a practice, an ongoing practice and lifelong pursuit. Just when I think I might have released most of it, I discover lots more…more tension, more emotion, more ‘stuff’ to just drop, let go. Just when I think I am getting there, my body or my life circumstances make it obvious I have just begun. Just when I think I know something, am beginning to understand and speak this language of emotion, I realize I know nothing, and am a child just barely learning to express.
Rather than being daunted by this, I am encouraged, energized, for if the first steps brought so much growth and release and transformation, I can hardly wait to see what the rest of the journey brings.
- How to: Stretch Pirformis (ottawamassageblog.com)