Being a ball and socket joint it has a lot of mobility second only to the shoulder, but in my opinion along with the groin is the most difficult to release and open.
I remember at the time of my teacher training at Sivananda in Trivandrum , I used to be almost in tears in deep seated twists like Ardha matsyendrasan (half spinal twist) or Paschimottanasan (full forward bend ) due to my restricted hip mobility , Being a dancer we constantly worked on opening our hamstrings for kicks ,splits etc. but rarely paid attention to the hips which are responsible for not only strength and stability in the lower back but also flexibility and forward bending back bending and twisting movements Yes… the single most important function of the hip is to provide balance and stability to our upper body , in other words the hip structure support the spine and the torso.
Tight hips are caused by disuse (lack of use) and misuse that is excessive wear and tear of the muscles around the joint .They can cause havoc and cause stiffness in the lower back, mobility issues with walking and basic movements .We also have a tendency to use one side of the body much more than the other causing further imbalance in the rest of the spine for e.g. not standing straight, sitting more into one hip than the other is a classic example!
In yoga practice externally and internally rotating the hips and staying in stretches for long periods of time anywhere between 2- 5 minutes can definitely help open out the hip joint and the muscles around the joint.
The photograph is a variation of the pidgeon pose / Kapothasan with a twist ! A great one for opening out the piriformis, a pear shaped muscle in the gluteal region.This pose can prepare us for deeper hips stretches like sitting in Padamasan / lotus pose and bend forward . If one is externally rotating the joint its very important to counter that with an internal rotation -asanas like half virasan or full virasan are helpful to bring flexibility in to the joint . These may be difficult at first but to breathe into them and surrender in to them allows on to stay in these deep stretches for a longer duration!!
Equally very flexible hips can be dangerous too and can cause havoc in the lower back region .Therefore hyper flexible people must work on stability and strengthening of the joint – some appropriate Asanas for strength would be Utkatasan / chair pose and the Warrior poses .
Working on a more mental emotional level – the hips are our seat of emotions and feelings and subconscious desires. .. In the subtle / energy body the sacral region corresponds to the Swadisthan chakra visualized as an orange vortex of energy or crimson lotus flower with 6 petals .Keeping our awareness on the chakra while working in a particular asana can even help rectify sexual, pelvic disorders as the chakra in the physical body corresponds to our reproductive and excretory function.
Therefore often while working on the hips one can experience deep emotional releases and responses on a psycho – emotional level.
Lastly we all have a tendency to avoid working on painful processes in our bodies especially tight hips but all in all our hips assist us to stand , walk , run , dance and balance our emotions and desires on a subtler level .The process of the blooming flower or opening the hips needs perseverance , patience and surrender!!