Monday, September 16, 2013

Hip Opening and Butt Toning

We have been focusing a ton on inner spiral the past few months in my public classes. Now that the students are understanding it and performing it better its time to add on outer spiral. Outer spiral fires the butt muscles (in particular gluteus maximus and the major lateral rotators like piriformis) which is super important for creating the outer spiral rotation and for roothing out of the focal point. However since the glute muscles are so powerful the have the ability to over ride the strength of the adductors (your inner thighs) which hold inner spiral. If this happens, the thigh bones will push forward in the hip sockets, causing the adductors and psoas to tighten and the lower back to flatten which leads to lower back problems and tight hips.

Principles of Emphasis
  • Muscular Energy In order to perform the next principles you need to tone the upper inner thighs (adductors) and the outer hips.
  • Inner Spiral turns the inner thighs in, back and apart (this is achieved by the strength of the inner thigh muscles) and sets the head of the femur bone into the hip socket. The sitting bones widen, and the butt muscles soften their grip in order for these smaller muscles (adductors...) create the actions of inner spiral. In asymentrical poses the back leg needs more inner spiral.
  • Outer Spiral initiates from the tailbone scooping under + the outer hips wrapping back and toward the midline of the body. This involves the strong lateral hip rotators (piriformis, gluteus maximus...). When you engage Outer Spiral, make sure that the action of the butt muscles doesn’t override the alignment action of inner spiral. In fact, your inner thighs will need to work more so they dont collapse from the power of outer spiral. In asymentrical poses the front leg needs more outer spiral
  • Organic Energy creates space in the joints by powerfully extending from the focal point toward the periphery (to the ground first and then through the other limbs of the body). When the pelvis is the focal point the pelvic bones and tailbone move down toward the earth, and the lower back and low belly lift up toward the sky. Gluteus medius is one of the key muscles involved in organic energy creating tons of space + stability in the hip.
Anatomy Breakdown

·         Gluteus maximus is the largest butt muscle, spanning from the side of the sacrum and ilium to the femur. It’s primary function is to extend the hip, and also laterally rotates (turns out) the hip when it is extended. This is one reason the back leg in most poses tends to have too much outer spiral. If your leg is fixed, gluteus maximus serves to scoop the pelvis under. To feel its engagement, stand in tadasana holding your bum and stretch one leg back behind you, extending the hip. You’ll feel the gluteus maximus fire on that leg. Now try standing in tadasana and scooping your pelvis under. You’ll feel both buttocks engage.

·         Gluteus medius is located on the outer hip, running from the outer upper hip down to the greater trochanter of the thigh bone. It’s primary role is in abduction of the hip, moving the leg away from the midline. To feel it, try standing in tadasana with both hands on your outer hips. Lift one leg straight out to the side to feel gluteus medius do the lifting.

·         Piriformis, gemellus superior, obturatur internus, gemellus inferior, obturatur externus and quadratus femoris (deep 6 hip rotators): a group of six deep hip muscles that all contribute to lateral/external rotation of the hip. The main one is the piriformis, will contract (and spasm) in an attempt to stabilize the hip when the inner thigh/outer hip team is not doing its job. Piriformis happens to sit right on top of the sciatic nerve, and so when it’s tight it can cause a shooting nerve pain down the leg (also known as piriformis syndrome). It can also jam the sacro-iliac joint by pulling on the sacrum when it spasms. Thesemuscles sit under gluteus maximus and they all attach to the inside of the inside of the greater trochanter and then they fan out to different locations around the low pelvis. Since all of these turn the leg outword (contribputing to feet turned out and stronger outer hips and weaker inner thighs) the way you stretch them is by rotating the leg in... Welcome inner spiral. To feel them do a syemetrical pose and get inner spirla really well estabilied taking the toned inner thighs in back and wide and then maintain outer spiral.


The Sequence:

1.      Tadasana: In tadasana have students feel glutes maximus and medius fire.

2.      Tadasana: Use a block between your inner thighs to feel the adductors fire and rotate the inner thighs in, back and wide. Then add outer spiral scoping tail bone under and wraping outer hips back and toward the midline. Powerfully root down from the pelvis through the feet. Notice how the gluteus medius (outer hip) fires to assist in this action. When it does, you’ll feel a natural spaciousness and lift up out of the pelvis. Keeping the block between your thighs move through Sun A3x

3.      Parsvottanasana: On the back leg side, the thigh and outer hip will tend to rotate outward, while the front naturally turns more inward with the hip jutting out to the side. (This is the common collapse  in all asymmetrical poses so the back leg will need more Inner Spiral to find balance, and the front leg will need more Outer Spiral and Organic Energy.) Inner spiral the legs especially the back leg then add strong outer spiral by wrapping the front hip around and under WITHOUT  losing the action of the inner thighs. Then press from your pelvic bones down through your legs into the floor. You’ll feel gluteus medius fire, especially on the front leg.

4.      Mod. Utthita hasta padangustasana holding knee: Start with an easy variation, just bringing one leg up with the knee bent and holding the front of the knee with both hands. With the legs strong and the inner thighs pressing back, now use your butt muscles to anchor the pelvis more. Especially work the gluteus medius on that standing leg, extending from the outer hip all the way down into the heel, and you’ll get a simultaneous lift up out of the pelvis. Hold this pose on each side until you feel that outer hip muscle start to tire.

5.      Vrksasana

6.      Standing pigeon- elbows in front of shin. Kick shin into the resistence of the elbows pulling back to fire glute

7.      Standing pigeon- galavasana

8.      Trikonasana: Like most asymmetrical poses, the front hip in trikonasana tends to get bound up. Try the pose with your bottom hand up on a block, so you have extra room to create good action through the front leg. Once you set up the legs with good Muscle Energy and Inner Spiral, activate your butt muscles to draw the front hip under more. This will clear space in the hip joint. Then extend organically from the pelvis through the legs into the earth, using gluteus medius in particular to root more down into the front leg. Remove the block when your front hip feels spacious enough to do so

9.      Ardha chandrasana: As a standing balance, this is a great pose to work on both gluteus maximus and medius. Gluteus maximus (and the other lateral rotators) will provide a wrapping energy from the outer front hip toward the midline and under, while gluteus medius gives you the extension downward out of the hip that you need to avoid collapsing the pelvis onto the thigh bone.

10.  Partner Ardha Chandrasana:a nice assist to help feel this is to have them press downward on your outer top hip, so that you get more rooted into the floor, and as you get more rooted, lift back up into their hand.

11.  Virabhadrasana 3 and Urdhva prasarita ekapadasana (aka standing splits): These poses are fun, as they are great ways to build the gluteus maximus (back leg) while strengthening gluteus medius (standing leg). Start in tadasana with hands on your hips, and with both feet on the floor just shift your weight over to your right foot. Even before lifting the left foot off the floor, extend organically downward from the pelvis into the standing foot (that’s your outer hip, gluteus medius). Then lift the left leg back up (gluteus maximus). The inner thigh on that back leg will have to work strongly to balance the lateral rotation that comes along with the firing of gluteus maximus. Hold Vira 3 for a few breaths, and then tip all the way forward to standing splits. Balance the action between the inner thigh lifting and the butt muscles working on the back leg, while extending fully downward out of the hip in the front leg.

12.  Spastic Pose: Start in uttanasana holding the big toes in yogic toe lock (first two fingers around the toe, thumb pressing into the floor). Engage the legs, especially by hugging the midline, and then widen the inner thighs back and apart. Shift your weight onto one foot as you lift the other leg straight out to the side. Gluteus medius, as an abductor, gets a workout on the lifted leg, while, as a stabilizer, gets a workout on the standing leg. If it’s weak, you’ll see why this one was nicknamed “spastic pose.”

  1. Parivrtta Trikonasana and Parivrtta Parsvakonasana: The twisted poses require a lot of strength in the butt muscles to keep the hips squared to the front. The lift of the inner back thigh, and the action of gluteus maximus on that back leg as you move into the twist) will help keep the back hip from dropping. On the front leg side, use your butt muscles to pull the outer hip back and under, and to extend more through the legs.
  2. Hanumanasana
  3. Butt massage - Eka pada rajakapotasana 1: good inner spiral needs to be set up in order to stretch the front outer hip muscles to the fullest. Start with a smaller angle in the front leg with the foot pointed this set up will be easier to access the inner spiral of the back leg. After finding that move deeper into the pose bringing the knee in line with the foot. In this variation the front foot will be flexed.
  4. Setubandha with [block]: with backbends, the legs naturally tend to rotate outward, jamming the thighs forward and, ultimately, compressing the lower back. So instead, get your inner thighs toned and flowing back (using a [block] between your upper inner thighs will help create that awareness), and then activate those butt muscles, extending them out toward your knees without over-riding the power of the inner thighs. This will create tremendous freedom in the lower back.
  5. Ardha matsyendrasana (and other seated twists): In the front hip (the side to which you are twisting) will tend to lift off the floor if the gluteus medius and the other butt muscles aren’t working. Really tack that hip down to lengthen up and out of the pelvis and take a twist.

18. Bhaddha Konasana with [block] use block between feet 2 mins on each side then soles of the feet together




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