Using hip muscles effectively in yoga practice – part 1: bridging and back bending

Weak Gluteal muscles are very common amongst yoga students and teachers alike and cause Sacroiliac pain and dysfunction, lower back pain and hamstring injury. Causes and symptoms are covered in the article on yoga butt and this post looks at the effects of various hip movement cues taught in yoga. Different instructions are required to address individual movement problems and it is up to the teacher to learn to identify problematic movement habits and teach useful corrections, because students can’t see themselves and are often unaware of their habits. This topic will be in two parts: the first looks at the role of the Gluteal muscles in bridging and back-bending and the second at how the hip muscles are commonly used in standing poses and forward bending. Continue reading

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Sciatica and Yoga

Sciatica is a name for a wide range of symptoms and has a variety of causes – it is often difficult for sufferers to find relief from symptoms that range from tingling and numbness to sharp pain in the hips, legs and feet. Although yoga can be helpful for relieving sciatic symptoms, it is also possible to develop sciatica from practicing yoga.

Any kind of nerve-related symptoms should be taken very seriously and assessed by a trained therapist because nerve damage causes degeneration of muscles and Sciatica can be a symptom of serious problems in the spine. Continue reading

Lower-back pain in Savasana

Lower back pain in Savasana can be caused by tightness in the Hip-flexor muscles – mainly the Iliopsoas – that causes the pelvis to tilt forwards.

Hip-flexor muscles are found in the front of the body and are active in forward bending (bringing the head closer to the feet) and in any kind of leg-lifting (bringing the feet or knees closer to the head). One of the functions of the Iliopsoas is to maintain the natural curve (lordosis) of the lower back and if there is excessive tension in this this muscle, the lower back curves inwards more than it should. When someone lies on their back, it’s natural for the pelvis to tilt backwards and for the curve of the lower back to flatten but if the Iliopsoas is tight, the lower back will be painful. Continue reading

Understanding and Managing Sacroiliac Pain in Yoga Practice

It is common for yogis to develop painful sacroiliac joints, with serious consequences: dysfunction at the sacroiliac joint inhibits the hip muscles and starts a vicious cycle of hip instability and body misalignment. Painful sacroiliac joints must be treated and stabilised to avoid chronic pain and it is not advisable to continue with any yoga practice that causes sacroiliac pain. Successful treatment by a specialised therapist is life-altering for yogis suffering from sacroiliac dysfunction. Continue reading

Balanced Hip Strengthening with Yoga

Hip strength and correct hip function is vital to a pain-free yoga practice but the saying “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” is applicable here: focusing too much on the legs weakens the hips. How much leg exercise is needed in relation to core strength depends on an individual’s physical activities apart from yoga and it can be difficult to get the balance right. Continue reading

How Hinging From the Hips Creates Weak Gluteal muscles

Yoga practice usually starts with some form of Surya Namaskara and most sun salutations include moving from Samasthitih or Tadasasna to Uttanasana and back upright many times. These movements are often made by keeping the back straight and folding forwards at the hips, with the knees locked and rising back to vertical in the same position, lifting the head first. Continue reading