Stand and Deliver
Strengthening the piriformis, a muscle located under the gluteus maximus, can help stabilize the pelvis and knees in many standing poses.
If you are dealing with pronated feet, knee problems, or lower back pain, be sure to take a few moments to stand in front of a mirror and look at your leg alignment. If your kneecap points over or even inside your big toe, weakness in your external rotators may be contributing to your problems. While work with your foot muscles and the use of orthotics may help support your leg from below, you may also need to increase support from above, at the hip, by making your buttocks firm and rotating the thigh outward so the knee is centered over the foot. Don't overdo the action by gripping the buttocks onto the tailbone, pushing the pelvis forward, or rolling onto the outer edges of your feet. Use a moderate action, just enough to achieve knee alignment while staying balanced on your feet.
Don't be surprised if you feel soreness in your buttock muscles within a day or two after working carefully on your standing pose alignment. Just be sure to take time to stretch the muscles after you've worked them. Remember, a sore muscle is a worked muscle, and a worked muscle is getting stronger, adding to the stability of your feet, knees, and hips.
Julie Gudmestad is a licensed physical therapist and certified Iyengar Yoga teacher. She runs a private physical therapy practice and yoga studio in Portland, Oregon, where she combines her Western medical knowledge with yoga.