Yoga Anatomy: The Gluteus Medius Muscle in Yoga

The gluteus medius originates on the outer surface of the ilium bone and runs to the greater trochanter of the femur. This muscle acts to stabilize the pelvis when standing on one leg in a yoga pose, and during walking.

The Gluteus Medius in 

The gluteus medius is also a primary abductor of the hip. Its anterior fibers act to synergize flexing and internally rotating the flexed hip; its more posterior fibers synergize extending and externally rotating the extended hip.

The gluteus medius is innervated by the superior gluteal nerve, which is formed from nerve roots L4, L5 and S1. Figure 1 illustrates this muscle. 

(Figure 1: The gluteus medius muscle with its innervation from the superior gluteal nerve. The gluteus maximus, with the inferior gluteal nerve is shown as a see-through.)

Yoga Poses to Engage and Strengthen the Gluteus Medius

Vrksasana (Tree Pose) and other one-legged standing poses help to strengthen the gluteus medius, which is essential for stabilizing the pelvis of the standing leg (figure 2).

Tree Pose

(Figure 2: The gluteus medius stabilizing the pelvis in Tree Pose.)

Figure 3 illustrates the gluteus medius contracting to help lift the leg in Ardha Chandrasana (Half Moon Pose).

Ardha Chandrasana

(Figure 3: The gluteus medius stabilizing the lifted leg in Half Moon Pose.)

Engaging the Gluteus Medius in Downward Facing Dog Pose

Engaging the gluteus medius in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) can be used to synergize hip flexion. This muscle also helps to internally rotate the hips, thereby bringing the kneecaps to face forward.

The cue for engaging the gluteus medius in Downward Facing Dog Pose is to press the feet into the mat and then attempt to drag them apart. The feet remain constrained on the mat and do not move. However, the abductor muscles, including the gluteus medius, minimus and tensor fasciae latae, engage to refine flexion and rotation of the hips.

Downward-Facing Dog Pose

(Figure 4: Engaging the gluteus medius and minimus in Downward Dog Pose.)

Figure 5 illustrates the gluteus medius synergizing hip extension in Purvottanasana (Upward Plank Pose).

Purvottanasana Pose

(Figure 5: Engaging the gluteus medius to synergize hip extension in Purvottanasana.)

Finally, figure 6 illustrates stretching the gluteus medius in Garudasana (Eagle Pose).

Garudasana Pose

(Figure 6: Stretching the gluteus medius in Garudasana.)

More from Dr. Ray Long on the Gluteus Media Muscle in Yoga:

What is Nutation and How Can it Help Our Forward Bends?  Part 1.

How to Use Nutation to Refine Uttanasana Part 2 – A Fringe Benefit.

Revolved Half-Moon Pose: 3 Steps to Lift and Stabilize the Pelvis.

This article originally appeared in Daily Bandha. Reprinted with permission.

Ray Long MDAuthor, Ray Long MD, FRCSC is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and the founder of Bandha Yoga. Ray graduated from The University of Michigan Medical School with post-graduate training at Cornell University, McGill University, The University of Montreal and Florida Orthopedic Institute. He has studied hatha yoga for over twenty years, training extensively with B.K.S. Iyengar and other leading yoga masters.                 


Chris Macivor

3d Graphic Designer / Illustrator Chris Macivor has been involved in the field of digital content creation for well over ten years. He is a graduate of Etobicoke School of the Arts, Sheridan College and Seneca College. Chris considers himself to be equally artististic and technical in nature. As such his work has spanned many genres from film and television to videogames and underwater imagery.         


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