All About the Hips: External Rotation
This blog is part of a series about the hips.
The next movement of the hips we will explore is external rotation. This movement is subtler than flexion or extension. However, external rotation plays a big role in yoga practice. External rotation of the hip is needed for challenging postures like Leg Behind the Head, but is also needed for all seated postures. For this reason it plays a big role in enabling pranayama and meditation practices. It is a physical skill that is needed for practices that take us beyond the body.
Muscles of External Rotation
External rotation is when the leg bone (femur) rotates away from the body. There are a lot of muscles that facilitate this motion, and any one of them can give us trouble. These muscles include: piriformus, quadratus femoris, two obdurators and the gemelli. (The gluteus maximus also aids in external rotation.)
External rotation is not particularly difficult when standing. Most of us have no problem pointing the toes of one or both feet out to the sides. However, this action is complicated quite dramatically once we had hip flexion.
Seated postures like Lotus can become problematic because the knee joint is much less stable than the hip. If we attempt to sit in Lotus without being able to do so safely, the knee tries to compensate for tightness in the hip.
In cultures that sit on the floor, external rotation is not a challenging movement. For those who sit in chairs, this movement is much more challenging. It can take time to develop this skill.
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Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are scholars as well as practitioners of yogic postures, breath control and meditation. They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga.
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