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Great Glutes

A toned backside is a beautiful thing, especially when you relax your posterior hip muscles.

By Julie Gudmestad

Your Humps

So what are these mysterious, hard-gripping, pose-disrupting muscles? The buttock muscles can be divided into two layers: the more superficial one is the gluteus maximus, which, when well developed, forms the rounded shape of the buttocks. It originates on the sacrum at the base of the spine and nearby pelvis, and then runs diagonally down and across the buttocks to insert on the outer upper femur (thighbone). When it contracts, it extends the hip, which pulls the femur into line with the torso. For example, the gluteus maximus contracts when you stand up.

In yoga, the gluteus maximus helps perform a similar job in partnership with the hamstrings when you move from a standing forward bend to standing upright. The gluteus maximus is also a strong external rotator of the hip, which, when you're standing, turns the knees outward.

The second and deeper layer of buttock muscles is made up of the six deep rotators. The piriformis is the best known, but this group also includes the internal and external obturators, the superior and inferior gemelli, and the quadratus femoris. They originate on the sacrum and the ischial tuberosities (sitting bones), and then run diagonally in a fan shape across the deep buttocks to insert on the back of the upper femur on the greater trochanter.

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Reader Comments


Don't the buttock muscles get weakened rather than overly tight by sitting a lot?? Thought it was the psoas that got tight?

Manish Pole

This is the first anatomy article that I have read on and I think its wonderful!! I'll be reading all the others.

I teach a style of Yoga called Bharat Thakur's Artistic Yoga. visit to find articles on "Butt-Strengthening"


I am a beginner in the practice of Hatha and Tantra yoga I have found that if you are truly seeking an enlightened journey you can focus on your breathing and only take the asana as far as you feel capable. I never once went on the negative thought of can't. I went on I can try and do eventualy. Meditation and breathing being my main focus to begin with. I am forever on a journey of enlightenment and I have found if you believe; your body mind and spirit will follow. I was taught by a Reiki Healer and I have been on this spiritual journey ever since

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