Our chair-bound society plays havoc with tight hips and a weak lower back. Working on the hips is key to structural good health. Inna Costantini reviews a DVD that could help.
Yoga teacher Jill Miller knows a lot about hips. As an ex-dancer having suffered from a number of dance related injuries, she discovered yoga as a way of ‘mending' herself and putting her body back in working order.
In this DVD, Jill takes us back to basics, explaining postural alignments, common mistakes, weaknesses, and the building blocks of a steady yoga practice.
Accessible for all levels
By focusing on the hip area (paying special attention to the psoas muscle) her aim is to make us rediscover our ‘inner power' - by which she means core strength - whilst loosening up this often usually tight spot.
As someone who has always tried to focus on hip openers (I blame this on a slight inward rotation of my pelvis bones) I was intrigued by what this practice could achieve.
Cleverly set up for students of all levels, the DVD focuses on the psoas as a key muscle in the body - it is the one keeping us upright, steady and strong, so it is crucial to ensure it has the best range of movement.
The very precise exercises demonstrated in the workshop target this specific muscular area of the body, in a technical, accurate manner, and I felt that I had worked parts of the body I had never addressed before.
The workshop demo also gave me that additional set of exercises to integrate into my own practice.
However, the slight overuse of props and accessories (from belts and blocks to ledges and plastic bags!) did distract me from the practice.
These are nonetheless useful in the workshop part of the dvd, where postures and technique are explained in more detail.
The practice section assumes that one is prepared and has all these props to hand, so as to quickly move into postures. This isn't necessarily suited for everyone - some, like me, would rather have the least distractions when practising, but for many, props do provide invaluable support and can enhance the practice.
Here, Jill Miller proves once more that working deep muscles in a precise manner is hugely beneficial for the body, posture and range of movement.
She makes each posture accessible for all levels (and not just for yogis - I could see this working for gym bunnies too), while making the practice challenging and effective at the same time.
All the exercises demonstrated were useful and could easily be integrated into one's personal practice, either as warm ups, toners or postures in their own right - and I particularly loved the pigeon.
Although my hips haven't quite magically opened up, I did find my whole body had worked, and a few days later, my attempts to a full padmasana (lotus), had become slightly easier.
This practice is simple to follow, clear and concise. It's unpretentious - no frills or fussy music and background - and does exactly what it says on the tin. It works and does so very well.
Review by Inna Costantini
Jill Miller's Hip Helpers DVD is available from yogamatters, for £14.99.