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How Yin Yoga is Helping Me Heal Emotional Trauma Stored in My Hips

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

In starting my yoga journey, my main goal was to help myself slow down, treat myself and my body kindly, and work through difficult emotions in a more mindful state. Early into this journey, I practiced many different types of yoga, including vinyasa yoga, healing yoga, mobility and meditation, restorative yoga, and yin yoga.

In one yin yoga session, our instructor started the 60-minute class by saying we will be focusing exclusively on opening our hips. Yin yoga typically targets connective tissues of the hips, pelvis, and lower spine through a series of holding poses for a longer period of time than typical in yoga. Though every instructor has a different approach to yin yoga, the sessions I attend hold these poses for two to five minutes.

The instructor of this session had us sit in hip-opening poses such as pigeon, butterfly, and happy baby to name a few. So, aside from the opening mindfulness practice of sitting cross-legged and the closing pose of savasana where we lay flat on our backs, roughly 45 minutes were dedicated to healing tension stored in our hips!

Emotional Trauma Stored In Hips

When struggling with difficult emotions or feelings, including mental illness or trauma, physical symptoms are likely to appear. Neuroscience has revealed that the hips are a “storage vessel for emotions.” Hips act as this vessel since the pelvis is the supporter and stabilizer of the body. Pain, tightness, tenderness, or general tension in hips are more common in women and can result from emotional trauma. Women are more likely to experience this storage of trauma and/or pain because the pelvis holds the creative and reproductive organs. Though everyone holds stress and trauma differently in their bodies, the pelvis is the core of the physical and emotional body. 

The body also reacts to stress in a fight, flight, or freeze response. Any mental or emotional stress leads to the body’s muscles tightening, and this tension often lingers even after the stressor disappears. The body reacts to emotions in a similar way. As these emotions travel throughout us, the body and mind express, experience, and store them. Through the trauma lens, storing these emotions can have a negative effect on the body — tightening the hips. 

How Holding Hip-Opening Poses Helped Me Release Emotional Trauma

Emotional healing can be a difficult process, but with more emotional trauma stored in hips, there are different ways to help work through it. While everyone processes trauma and emotions differently, yin yoga and hip-opening practices have helped me. Yoga has helped me create a mind-to-body connection on a deeper level, one that incorporated my emotions and feelings into this understanding. 

A slow, and often still, practice of yoga — such as yin yoga — helps me understand my hips better on a physical level as well. Everyone’s body is built differently, so understanding my hip’s mobility and where my tightness lies in my hips is a process that differs from other people’s as well. 

Though I had decent mobility in my hips prior to starting yoga, my first session of yin yoga exclusive to opening the hips was difficult nonetheless. This chakra — a place where energy enters the body — was still blocked regardless. 

In the first few poses, my mind was focused on deepening the stretch I was holding. It wasn’t until the instructor had us sit in pigeon pose on each side that I noticed how my body was working through my hip tightness. Folded over my leg and taking deep breaths, I felt the tension release and my muscles open, almost flattening myself straight over my leg in front of me. I could feel this release of tension spread throughout my leg and eventually my whole soul. The same experience occurred as I folded over the other leg as well.

The last hip-opening pose we held before savasana was a happy baby. At the start of the class, our instructor told us that it is okay to cry on the yoga mat, saying she has done it plenty of times before. During such an intense practice of emotional release, I was not shocked when I felt overwhelmed in this last pose. 

I felt freer than I did at the start of the session. I became more aware of my hips throughout my daily life as well, recognizing when I would tense them or hold too much weight in them. As I continue to practice hip-openers in yoga, I hold the poses with intention, letting myself work through the tightness slowly with every breath I take. 

Emotional healing is a long process. I learned in my first session of hip-opening yin yoga that caring for my physical body in a gentle manner can help open up my emotional self in a healthy way, supporting the emotional being and helping me feel.

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Sydney Ciano

U Mass Amherst '25

Sydney is a student at UMass Amherst studying English and Sports Journalism looking to pursue a career in sideline sportscasting reporting. She has a strong interest in poetry writing, having published her first poetry book prior to college, and pop culture. Aside from writing, she enjoys sunsets, makeup, reading, and listening to a variety of music.