“If you want peace and purity, melt away your coverings…let a streaming beauty flow through you.” – Rumi
This week we continue our quest to support a steady yoga practice by looking at the second limb of the yoga system called niyamas or observances. There are five niyamas and the first is shaucha or purity.
By observing purity, we endeavor to lift ourselves to a higher, clearer and more peaceful state at all levels: intellectual, verbal and physical.
I could have titled this Friday Focus as “Maximizing Your Glutes” or even “Glute Camp”. But I really want to generate a positive, more yogic vibration. No calisthenic connotations here. Then came the idea “Glutton For Glutes”. Although the word “glutton” most often refers to a glutton for punishment, a glutton can also be someone who is extremely eager for something, whether that be food or adventure…hmmm.
Lately, I am a glutton for glorious glutes. Because I have come to realize how vital this set of muscles is to my strength, alignment and overall well-being. Also, I am discovering that as my backside slackens (yikes), my quadriceps tighten. There is always a give and take within the body.
Here are some of the ways that the strongest muscle in your body, the gluteus maximus, and its supporting actors, the deep rotators, help with developing the overall best picture.
stabilize hip joints
allow you to stand straighter
ease strain on knees and low back
support entire back, pelvis and legs
All great points for ranking these muscles as number one for strengthening this month.
As we addressed in class, many of the one-legged standing poses do this job nicely. Vrksasana (Tree Pose), Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III), Ardha Chandrasana (Half-Moon) and Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose) all assist with activating the glutes as does Salabasana (Locust Pose).
However, there is one other posture that we didn’t have time for in class today. It is the One-Legged Bridge Pose or Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. As you practice this pose, an important thing to remember is to push downward through your shoulders as well as your grounded leg. As you hold the posture, try to interject tiny pulses upward through your extended leg. The trick for persevering with this is to focus on your breath. Extend upwards as you inhale and ground down as you exhale. Remember if it’s not with the breath, it’s not yoga!