What’s Up Wednesday?: Strength & Mobility for Hips and Glutes

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Hi Yogis! I hope you are doing well and staying safe! Where I am in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are dealing with fires. Fortunately, they are not close to where I am, but the air quality is very poor. My Dad lives in the Sierra Foothills and had to be evacuated due to a fire close to him. Thankfully, he is safe and I hope he will get to be back in his home soon. Sending all of you much love and light for whatever circumstances you may be dealing with. These days it is always something! We are strong and we will persevere!!

 

What Am I Teaching This Week?

My classes this week are focused on building strength and mobility in the hips and glutes. Having strength in the glutes is important for the health of your hips and low back. While these poses are often on repeat in my teaching they are always incorporated into my personal practice.

A few years ago, I was having pain in my right hip crease or hip flexor. It went on for quite a while and I just kept up with my yoga practice. Some days it would hurt more than others but the pain was never debilitating enough to keep me from exercising or practicing yoga. Thank goodness! I also started having more low back pain. I continued to do everything I knew how
to do as a yoga teacher to help myself and I am humbled to say, nothing really worked. I eventually realized I needed to find out what was going on, went to the doctor, had an MRI, and got the diagnosis of a frayed labrum and hip degeneration.

Shortly before going to the doctor, I joined a gym and began to notice on the days I went to the gym, my hip would feel better. This was interesting to me, so obviously I kept going to the gym. Then one morning I was in a yoga class and I will never forget I was in Warrior 2 and I realized I was really engaging my legs in the class but my glutes were not working at all!!! As soon as I engaged my glutes my hip pain went away almost instantly. I was shocked – about 90% of my pain was gone!!! Oftentimes pain is a sign of weakness in the body and in my situation that was definitely the case.

My experience led me to learning more about how to incorporate strength training into both my personal yoga practice and teaching. I have come to learn how important it is to practice yoga in a way that actively engages muscles instead of passively stretching. I am grateful for the experience of having these issues with my hip and back as it has made me a better yoga teacher and I can help my students check in with their bodies to make sure they are engaging all the right muscles in poses.

Now due to Covid, I am no longer going to the gym, but these poses and active engagement of the muscles in my yoga practice really keep me out of pain.

(Please note, I am not against a passive yoga practice, but it has to be right for each person’s body. Maybe I will write more on this another time)

Lateral legs lifts are so strengthening for the outer hip muscles. There are several different lateral hip movements, but I have really been enjoying this one lately. You can make it more dynamic by raising and lowering your leg 8-10 times, but I find just holding the leg up inline with the hip is a great way to engage muscles and build strength.

The key word is here active! You want to make sure you are actively pressing into your front foot and engaging your glutes.
Press into your front foot as if you were going to stand up, lean back so your shoulders are over your hips, ensure a neutral spine by tilting your pelvis up towards your chest, and engage your glutes.

From the low lunge above, tuck the back toes under, press into your feet and rise up into straight legs. Then bend both knees. You will want to have a neutral pelvis as explained above, shoulders aligned with the hips, and your glutes engaged.
This pose is actually quite challenging and really strengthening for the hips. When you come into this pose, flex your front foot, then press your knee, shin, and ankle into the mat, and allow your hips to lift a bit. You can also press into the back foot.


This pose is actually quite challenging and really strengthening for the hips. When you come into this pose, flex your front foot, then press your knee, shin, and ankle into the mat, and allow your hips to lift a bit. You can also press into the back foot.

It is recommended you hold all of the above poses for 5-8 breathes before going onto the other side.

You could easily pair these poses with either the Core Exercise in this post or The Yoga with Blocks poses from this post for a more complete practice.

I hope these poses inspire you to challenge yourself in your practice. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out or comment below.

 

Weekly Reading Update

 

I finished The Two Lives of Lydia Bird.  


This story is about a young woman whose fiance passes away right at the beginning of the story.  The story is essentially about her “awake” life as she deals with the grief of her fiance’s passing and her “asleep” life when she lives the life with her fiance as if he did not pass.  I have to say, I did not love this book.  I would have enjoyed it more if it was just one story of Lydia’s current life.

I give it 2 yoga mats.

This past weekend was the first time since the beginning of Covid where I actually felt a little bored.  It must have been because it was so hot where I live and I couldn’t get out for my daily walk.  But I made the best of it and read for hours on Sunday!! I just love it when I can get lost in a good book.  I read Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer. 

 

I actually loved this book!  It is set in Nantucket just like 28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand   You can read my review here.I actually think I need to go to visit Nantucket one of these days!  LOL!  As a beach lover, this place sounds amazing! Anyway, this book is the perfect summer read with a happy ending…just perfect for the times we are living in (although I’m not sure if the title matches the story – let me know what you think)! 

I just picked up City of Girls: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert.I have loved a few of  Gilbert’s books in the past, so I am looking forward to reading this one.  Of course, I will let you know my thoughts when I finish.  

I am just loving this summer reading!!  Let me know if you have any favorite summer books you might recommend!

 

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