And it’s true. Yet in our modern society, we spend much of our time sitting or doing repetitive forward movements: at our desks, on the sofa, in our cars, and eating our meals. Even our regular yoga or fitness routines tend to focus on strengthening our front-sides, which can then result in overstretched and underused backsides. These habits greatly impact our overall health and balance—not to mention keep us from having tight, toned tushes.
See also Poses for Your Glutes
Think of the glutes as the core of the back body. When firing properly, these large, meaty muscles support our every movement and help our bodies stay in balance. They are essential for good posture and stability. Having these muscles alert and awake will distribute the load out of our joints and low back and into our active musculature. “Waking up” or “firing” the glutes will greatly improve your body’s ability to work properly in every other movement throughout the day.
My favorite sequence for the glutes combines elements of both yoga and Pilates. This sequence gradually awakens these important muscles and even better, can be done at home in just a few minutes.
Yoga for Glutes: A 7-Pose Home Practice
1. Bridge Pose/Pelvic Curl
Lie on your back with your knees bent. Place your feet flat on the mat and press firmly into your heels. Engage your core and pull your navel inward and upward. On an inhalation, connect to your glute muscles, then slowly lift your hips toward the ceiling. Practice engaging the glutes before the hamstrings (you can simply touch your glute muscles with your fingertips to make sure they are firing). On an exhalation, lower back down to the ground. Repeat 3-5 times.
If you would like variety or resistance … place a hand weight across your pelvis and hold in place with your hands as you lift.
Lie on your right side with your right arm under your head like a pillow. Bend both knees and lift your heels a few inches off the mat. With your heels still connected, inhale and engage your left glute muscle to open your left knee toward the ceiling. On an exhalation, close your knee back down to touch the right. Repeat 3-5 times, then switch sides.
If you would like variety or resistance … wrap an elastic workout strap around your knees and move against the resistance.
3. Kneeling Bent Leg Lift
Come on to your forearms and knees. Engage your core and fire up your right glute. On an inhalation, lift your right heel toward the ceiling like you want to make a foot print. Keep your knee bent. On an exhalation, lower your knee. Repeat 3-5 times, then switch sides.
If you would like variety or resistance … place a hand weight in the pit of your knee and squeeze while you lift and lower.
4. Kneeling Straight Leg Lift
Stay on your forearms and knees. Straighten your right leg out and let your right toes touch the floor. On an inhalation, engage your core and your right glute muscle and lift. On an exhalation, lower back down. Repeat 3-5 times, then switch sides.
If you would like variety or resistance … tap your toes out to the side, lift, then cross behind your opposite leg. And/or use an ankle weight to add resistance.
5. Locust Pose (Salabhasana) with Pilates Toe Taps
Lie on your stomach, place your forehead on the floor, and interlace your hands behind your back. Engage your core and squeeze your glutes. On an inhalation, lift both legs (from your glutes) and tap your toes together. Lift your head and upper body off the floor, gently pulling your shoulders back while keeping your hands interlaced and lifted off your back. On an exhalation, lower back down. Repeat 3-5 times.
If you would like a modification … place your hands under your forehead for support and/or lift and lower one leg at a time.
Stay on your stomach and reach your arms out in front of you. Engage your core and squeeze both glutes. On an inhalation, simultaneously lift your right arm and left leg off the mat, then begin a “swimming” type rhythm, alternating arms and legs. Swim for about 30 seconds, then rest. Repeat 3-5 times.
7. Crescent Lunges
Come to standing on your mat and step your right foot forward and your left foot back into a lunge position. Scoot your left foot in a bit so your left knee can bend directly under your left hip. Reach your arms overhead and engage your core. On an inhalation, bend both legs and lower your left knee to almost tap the ground; on an exhalation, straighten both legs, squeezing the glutes. Make sure your right knee stays over your right heel so most of your weight is supported by the glute, not the thigh muscle. Repeat 3-5 times, then switch sides. Notice how the glutes engage fully in this standing exercise now that the muscles have been awakened.
If you would like variety or resistance … place your hands on your hips or use hand weights at your heart center.