The yoga pose “The Scales” and its regenerating effect on the hip joint

Originally posted in German on 6th September 2017

By Christina Kullmann and Heinz Grill:

The hip joint

The general school of thought is that much of the wear and tear of the hip joint is based on imbalanced loading along with insufficient demands in terms of dynamic movement. The large amount of sitting means for the hip joint a weakening of the ligaments and muscles. Our so-called “civilised” living conditions do not guarantee an adequate supply of blood throughout the entire joint and to the cartilage. Gravity dominates, pushing the body downwards towards the ground and the metabolic functions are not sufficiently stimulated. Today, the lively, generative metabolic forces that work against gravity must be stimulated not only through sport but also through a targeted activity of consciousness combined with movements.

The hip joints represent the link between the legs and the pelvis; they are very large joints. In all leg movements the hip joints must come into activity. In normal walking on the street or on a mountain, they transmit the force from below upwards to the trunk of the body.

The hip is a characteristic ball and socket joint that allows very great mobility in all spatial dimensions. (Twisting, stretching, bending, adduction and abduction, circular movements).

The hip socket displays a clear, round design. Its area is increased by a cartilaginous lip at the edge. A large part of the femoral head is covered through this protected position and ensures stability when standing. The joint enables great freedom of movement, even under a load, without the luxations that are common in shoulder joints.1) The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. However, this high degree of mobility means that, compared to other joints, there is a high risk of “dislocation”, in technical terms, of “luxation”.

A peculiarity of this joint is that the femoral head is supplied not only by the arteries surrounding it (arteria cirumflexa), but also by an artery that is embedded in a ligament and attaches directly to the femoral head in the centre of the joint itself. (A branch from the obturator artery).

This large joint is also secured by strong ligaments. These twist when standing upright and when the body is stretched they press the femoral head more firmly into the socket. In contrast, when the hips are bent and slightly externally rotated, these ligaments are relaxed, the femoral head is optimally adjusted in the socket in this position, and the pressure load is distributed over the largest possible area.

The situation is different, for example, with the yoga pose Yoga Mudra, if this position is performed with the legs in the lotus position. The joint is given maximum leeway through the external rotation and through the forward bend. The peripheral areas of the femoral head receive a certain load. In general, therefore, lotus positions have a healing effect on the hip joint through increasing the extent of movement.(( In Yoga Mudra the upper body bends forwards from a sitting position with the arms stretched out over the head until the forehead touches the floor. The sitting position can be the kneeling position or the more demanding lotus position. See also the article about Yoga Mudra)

Physiotherapeutically, coxarthrosis (arthrosis of the hip joint) is dealt with through exercises that load the joint as little as possible with the aim of stimulating the blood circulation in the surrounding tissue and, moreover, of avoiding additional mechanical stress to the joint. The inflamed synovium needs to calm down so that the cartilage does not succumb to further degeneration.

Nowadays, people often even work with traction on the joint in order to pull the joint surfaces apart with the aim of relieving the cartilage and improving its supply. The surrounding muscles are strengthened and above all stretched to counteract the contractures (muscle shortening) caused by poor compensatory posture. The iliopsoas muscle, the deep hip flexor, deserves a special mention here, because it pulls the femoral head particularly strongly into the hip socket and causes compression. Hip arthrosis often starts with chronic tension and shortening of this muscle.

A potential therapy to regenerate and relieve the hip.

The Scales is a very dynamic exercise that combines both balance and strength. The body is stretched far out horizontally, while the supporting leg must develop good stability and the strength to pull in towards the pelvis.

In the scales the hip musculature is addressed and strengthened in a very differentiated way, with different muscles, through sensitively playing with the balance. There can be a feeling of a solid yet fluid connection between the legs and the body.

From an expanded metaphysical point of view, the hip joint should be as free from stress, mobile and centred as possible. This centring is sure to come about through a solid completion of the scales, and generally through rhythmically oriented movements. If we begin to include the ether laws in our overall consideration, in other words if we do not only calculate the various mechanical loads, but also see the body in an overall context of cosmic, soul and spiritual effects, we gradually begin to see that the healthy building up of ether in the hip joints depends on the lightness and freedom of the head. A centring is not only the result of the external mechanical physical care of practising, walking, mountaineering or gymnastics, but it develops when the whole upper body flows with aliveness in a free movement of breath and a free exchange of thoughts.

When practising the scales, the attention is directed outwards into the vastness of the space. The arms glide relaxed sideways and forwards almost like butterfly wings, which, as if out of the space, offer the body help in inserting itself into the horizontal line and into the balance. The breath is left to swing freely, without the weight of gravity. It enters, through the airways and also through the entire relaxed throat region, easily into the lung cavity. The upper body remains fluid and the shoulders are not fixed. The movement into the scales is actually initiated as if outside the body by this focused mental picture; it begins in the expanse of the space and then condenses to the form chosen in the mental picture. However, the centre of the body is the hips, and these are approximately midway between the top and bottom of the body. The etheric forces that come in from above gather in the hips and centre them. Practitioners can discover a certain strength when practising the scales and they experience a natural, increasing physical stability in the leg area. The femoral head actually becomes centred into the hip socket as a result of the relaxed and permeable upper body.

Another additional possibility for furthering this harmonious centring of the hip joint comes from the dynamic strength of the rising supporting leg. Practitioners place their foot firmly on the floor and direct all their attention to this supporting leg. By paying more attention to the supporting leg, bringing this leg into the strength of their will, the other leg, which rises up backwards, can unfold with a fluid lightness. The action of the ether in each leg complements the other. By tensing the supporting leg, the leg that rises backwards into the horizontal plane is released from the usual tensions and can thus glide into a new form. Etheric forces work from the moment they encounter a liberated region.

With the supporting leg, an ascending force centres directly into the hip joint, bringing the femoral head harmoniously into the socket while the leg extended backwards expands and lengthens like a freed limb. The pelvis, with the two hip joints, appears in the scales like the meeting place between two completely different directions of movement, namely the horizontal and the vertical. The rising dynamic from the standing leg is redirected into a horizontally extending movement of the free leg and the torso. Wherever two directions of movement or forces meet, there is a centring. This exists at first on the etheric plane, in the plane of the mental picture, and finally finds its consequent realisation on the physical place.

The scales – easier variation

The legs move in opposite directions relative to the pelvis.

The legs are coordinated in a movement and counter-movement in an intensive way, more than is usually necessary in walking. The freely allowed breath (as opposed to fixed breath) carries these moments of movement focused on centring.

In the scales, regardless of whether it is done more simply or to perfection, the positioning of the hip joints is optimally corrected. The femoral head is concentrated in a focused way into its receiving socket, the central ligament with the artery to the femoral head remains relaxed and allows optimal blood flow. At the same time, when performing the scales the entire musculature around the hips and in the back works very actively. Metabolic supplies and active strengthening processes invigorate the entire joint. By performing the position alternately on each side, a lovely alternation is attained between feelings of the heavy load of the upper body and of the building up that comes from the standing leg right into the hip. Since these phases of the exercise are brought into activation in a focused way and for much longer than when walking, the metabolic supply to the cartilage is dynamically stimulated.

Of course, practising the scales is not the only way to centre the hip joint and increase the metabolic supply in the tissues. However, this exercise in particular, through its picture, offers a general way in which a relief in the upper body with a simultaneous, meaningful dynamic in the leg and hip area can initiate, support and promote a healing process.


1 The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the human body. However, this high degree of mobility means that, compared to other joints, there is a high risk of “dislocation”, in technical terms, of “luxation”.

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