Often yoga is thought of as a practice that is aimed at increased flexibility and lengthening of muscles, whilst this is true, yoga is also a great way to create strength and stability. Having had a knee injury myself, I have come to understand the true importance of having glute muscles that are not only strong, but are able to active and work as and when they are needed, to protect the knee joint as well as the hips. So here are five really great yoga postures that you can incorporate into your own practice to get those glutes firing up!
- High Crescent Lunge
This is one of my favourites, come into a high crescent lunge, lift your back heel as high as it will go whilst toes are still on the mat, start to bend the back knee so it reaches towards the floor (but keep it hovered) and then restraighten the back leg, squeezing the back glute as you straighten, move with the breath now, so as you exhale bend the back knee, as you inhale straighten the bag leg, and continue to work through this high crescent lunge vinyasa.
Ensure the front knee stays above the front ankle and doesn’t stray further forwards than the ankle or out to either side.
- Goddess Pose
Goddess pose technically falls into the squat category when looking at it in terms of anatomy, so it is great for glute strength! Bring your feet about 1-1.5 metres apart from each other and have your feet turned out at 45-90 degree angles, start to bend the knees and lower the hips down. Use your breath and with every exhale lower a little deeper. Intensify this by allowing the heels to lift. Keep hands on the hips or come into full goddess by lifting the arms out at right angles.
- Warrior III
Another excellent glute posture, but also an asana that will fire up the rest of your posterior chain (muscles that run down the back of your body and the backs of your legs).
From high crescent lunge start to gradually move your weight forwards onto the front leg until the back foot lifts all the way up, bring your lifted leg and body into a T shape, either have hands at heart centre or reach your arms ahead. Keep the hips level and really push into the lifted heel, almost as though you are pressing your foot against an invisible wall. Stay here and work with the breath or perhaps move from high crescent lunge to warrior III and back again.
In yoga it’s quite common practice to not over contract the glutes in bridge due to the element of back bending. In this variation, do not lift up to your full max, keep your core engaged and keep your tailbone lengthening down towards your heels, engage the glutes, and take it in turns to lift one knee towards the chest and then straighten that leg extended the heel towards the ceiling.
5. 3 Legged High Plank
Come into high plank, ensure the hands are directly underneath the shoulders, press the middle part of your upper back (space between shoulder blades) up towards the ceiling and start to lift one leg, keep the plank shape but pulse the lifted leg up, making sure to engage your glutes. Allow that leg to come down and swap sides.
So there you have it! These are some excellent yoga postures that will really enable your glutes to fire properly, allowing them to better protect your from injury and support the surrounding structures.