Flexibility and yoga are not synonymous in my world. This rings especially true when it comes to my left hip. It’s stuck. It has no sympathy for my ego. In sukhasana (cross legged – easy pose) it hoists up my left knee, like a white flag waving surrender from my otherwise pretzel shaped legs.
My right hip is adaptable. It’s my half lotus hip. The one I can trust to make me look good. It opens happily in poses like pigeon and warrior two. In savasana (corpse pose – lying on the floor) my left toes point straight up toward the ceiling while my right toes rotate directly toward the side wall. My legs seem to belong to two very different skeletons.
Anyone who has practiced yoga has probably realized that they aren’t mechanically symmetrical. Some more then others. It can be baffling, so when the lack of symmetry is persistent or even starts to become exaggerated, I figure it makes sense to take a longer look.
The funny thing I noticed about the imbalance in my hips is that my left side, stuck as it may be, wears this lack of flexibility like a coat of armer. It is strong and intact, unphased by whatever is happening around it. The external rotation on my right side is a little scary. My knee takes twists when I’m not careful (never twist from the knee BTW), my hip drops open in baddhakonasana to the point of increasing discomfort and my right leg experiences regular nerve pain that runs hip to ankle.
I’m still not entirely sure what it is about my right hip’s flexibility that makes that leg more vulnerable (is there a Doctor in the house?), but in my Monday Iyengar class when I am reminded to use the same props on both sides catering to my less flexible left side (holding back all the greatness of my right) my ego cries out, “there goes all your progress in your asana practice” and my logical side whispers “this is Step One towards a balanced body, my friend.”
Working on the “bad side” for me is a little like putting off that dreaded homework assignment. I’ve been checking Facebook, texting my friends, even cleaning my kitchen, all to avoid the real work I know I need to be doing. It’s time for an all nighter. My left hip needs the attention it deserves and my right hip needs to be more reserved, connecting to my pelvis, stabilizing and getting strong. It’s all part of this new work for me, “don’t rush – take it slow.” I’m not on a journey to becoming the Next Top Yogi, I’m on a path of self care however long and even arduous that may be. As we hear so often in yoga, “it’s not about the end result, it’s about how you get there.” I think I’m actually starting to believe it.