Cheers to glute muscles! These three major muscles not only look super sexy, but strong glutes can help you avoid future injury. They’re one of the key areas to focus on if you want to enjoy a safe yoga and fitness experience. Now that’s sexy! Before we dive into today’s yoga sequence for strong glutes, let’s first chat about why is it so important.
There are three major muscles that make up the glutes – The gluteus maximus, medius, and minimus (and several smaller ones). These muscles work to stabilize the pelvis and hips. Additionally, they support the joint connection of the femur into the hip, along with the rotation and movement of the femur and the back of the upper thigh. These bad boys work hard for you!
The butt muscles, or glutes, are actually important for stabilizing the pelvis. The glutes are known in fitness circles as your body’s engine, not only because they’re the largest muscle group in the body, but also because they’re involved in most athletic functions, says Bret Contreras, C.S.C.S., coauthor of Strong Curves: A Woman’s Guide to Building a Better Butt and Body. In fact, toning the glutes has been shown to help decrease lower back and knee pain while increasing movement in the lower body.
Plus, our butts tend to have it rough in our daily lives. We are sitting on it all of the time! The term “lazy ass” is actually a real problem! Plenty of women are suffering from “gluteal amnesia,” which is a condition where the glutes eventually sit back and make the hamstrings and lower back take on the job of extending the hips and rotating the femur. Yikes!
Yoga for Strong Glutes
So, men and women alike, let’s take care of our booty’s. This yoga class specifically targets the glute muscles.
Extended Child’s Pose
From hands and knees, bring the big toes together and take the knees out as wide as the mat. Sit back onto the heels and walk the hands forward, bringing the forehead down onto the mat. Allow the belly to drop between the thighs and sink into the hips. Reach through the fingertips, but allow the shoulder blades to stay in place.
Come to hands and knees. Place the hands directly underneath the shoulders with the fingertips spread wide. The knees should plant themselves directly underneath the hips, feet in line with the knees. Try to keep a neutral, flat back. Lift one leg straight back behind you, lifting as high as you can.
On each exhale, crunch the knee all the way into the nose. Inhale to lift the leg again back behind you. Repeat 10-20 times and then switch to the other side.
Upward Facing Dog
Lower onto your belly with the feet stretched back behind with the tops of the feet pressed into the mat. Bring the palms underneath the shoulders, fingers spread wide, and the elbows are pulled in. On an inhale, press into the palms as you pull the body slightly forward and straighten into both arms. The torso and chest should open forward and the tops of the thighs are lifted from the ground. Lift the tailbone towards the pubis, keeping the buttock relaxed and the hips squared forward.
Forearm Plank Pose
From hands and knees, place the elbows directly underneath the shoulders and palms directly in front of the elbows, pressing into the forearms and palms into the mat, and lifting into the tops of the shoulders. Tuck the toes and step each foot back, bringing your body into one straight line. Tuck the pelvis, pull the bellybutton up towards the spine, and press the thighs together. Aim to make one long line with the body, not allowing the tailbone to lift or the hips to drop too low.
Alternate Leg Lifts
Keeping your forearm plank pose, lift one leg up straight behind you, as high as you can. Plant the foot back down and lift to the other side, moving with the breath. Repeat 10-20 times on each side.
Downward Facing Dog
From hand and knees, place the knees directly underneath the hips and the feet hip distance apart. Hands should reach out in front of the shoulder with the fingers spread wide and the palms fully pressing into the floor. Lifting the knees off of the floor, reach the tailbone up towards the ceiling and straighten into the legs. Press the heels towards the floor and look up at the belly button, relaxing the tops of the shoulders.
From downward facing dog, step the right foot up in between the hands, making sure that the knee is stacked right over the foot. Staying on your left toes, press into the left heel to straighten and strengthen the back leg. Center your hips forward by pressing your left hip towards the front of the mat. Reach the hands over head, keeping the shoulders drawn back and the belly pulled in.
Modification option: Keep the hands on the hips if experiencing shoulder pain.
From high lunge with the right foot in front, bring both hands to heart center to find stability. Step the back foot closer to the front as you bring the weight of the body into the right foot. As you start to straighten into the right leg, press the left leg back behind you, lifting the toes off of the ground and pressing the top of the head forward. Aim to straighten fully into both legs fully, creating the shape of a “T” with the body. Keep the left hip dropped in line with the right hip and press into the heel for stability.
Optional: Reach the arms forward, back, or out to the side to play with different variations.
Chair Pose with Heel Lifts
From standing, reach the hands up over hand while bending the knees, as if sitting back into a chair. The pelvis should be tucked under, belly drawn in, and the shoulders rolled back. Try to get the thighs parallel with the ground if possible.
On your inhale, reach forward, sink deeper into your seat, and lift both heels off the floor. Lower them back down and reach the hands back up on the inhale. Repeat this sequence 10-20 times.
Standing Forward Fold
Start standing in tadasana. On an exhale, hinge forward at the waist with a straight back and bring your hand towards the ground. Depending on flexibility, bring your hands to the shins, floor, or yoga block. You can also keep a slight bend in the knee. Allow the hand and shoulder to relax downwards.
Garland Pose or Yogis Squat
Start from standing in mountain pose. Step the feet wider than hip distance, turning the toes out and the heels in. Squat down and reach your tailbone as close to the floor as possible. Aim to keep your heels on the floor if possible, walking the feet further out or closer together to accomplish this. For balance, keep hands on the floor in front of you or on block. If balance, bring the hands to prayer at heart center and press the elbows into the knees to open the hips.
Lying on your back, bend the knees and place the feet on the floor, close to the tailbone and about hip distance apart. Place the hands palms down on both sides of the hips. On an exhale, lift the hips and the buttock up towards the ceiling. Try to keep the thighs parallel to the floor and roll the shoulder blades underneath.
Option is the clasp the hands together below the lower back, continuing to pull the shoulder blades together.
Alternate Leg Lifts
On an inhale, lift the right foot off the ground and towards the ceiling. Exhaling, lower the right foot to be in line with the thighs. Repeat 8-10 times and again on the other side
Upward Plank Pose
Start from staff pose – seated with the legs straight out in front. Bring the hands to both sides of body, slightly behind the hips, with the fingertips pointing forward. On inhale, lift the hips up toward the ceiling, squeezing the tailbone up, and pulling the shoulder blades back. Aim to keep both legs straight the the soles of the feet on the floor.
Optional: Drop the head back and continue to pull the shoulders back.
Reclined Supine Twists
Start laying on your back and gently draw the right knee into your chest. Use the left hand to draw the knee across the body over to the left side of the mat, rolling onto the left side of the body. Reach the right hand to the right and relax into the twist. Gaze can be to the left or, for a deeper twist, glance back to the right.
Happy Baby Pose
Start lying on the back. Bend your knees into your chest and separate the feet and knees wide, holding on to the outer edges of the feet. Open your knees slightly wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your armpits. Rock side to side on the back, actively pulling the knees wide and towards the floor.
Don’t skip this one! This may not seem like it, but it is the most difficult yoga pose that you can accomplish.
Laying flat on your back, bring the arms to your side with the palms up, allowing the shoulders to roll back. Allow the toes to fall out to the side and tuck the chin in slightly to make sure the back of the neck is straight. Relax the body as much as you can and rest here for 3-5 minutes.
Ready to tone and strengthen your glutes with these yoga moves? Keep this routine nearby you by printing out this one page PDF.
Questions about the routine or how to get in touch with your third eye chakra? Comment below and let’s keep the conversation going!