Your Glutes and Lats in Bird Dog Pose

In today’s post a helpful alignment cue and illustration for Bird Dog Pose brought to you by Dr. Ray Long from The Daily Bandha.

Once you learn the individual muscles in your body, then it’s time to look at how they function together during movement and in your asanas. Use your knowledge to develop cues to refine and deepen your yoga poses. Groups of muscles, ligaments, and fascia that function together are known as “subsystems.” This post examines the posterior oblique subsystem in Bird Dog pose.

The Posterior Oblique Subsystem in Bird Dog Pose

The posterior oblique subsystem is comprised of the gluteus maximus on one side of the body and the latissimus dorsi on the other side, with the thoracolumbar fascia between. These structures operate synergistically with other groups of muscles, ligaments, and fascia, particularly during rotational movements such as a golf swing.

Figure 1 below illustrates how the fibers of the gluteus maximus and opposite side latissimus dorsi run perpendicular to the sacroiliac joint. Co-contracting these two muscles can be used to tension the thoracolumbar fascia, thus stabilizing the sacroiliac joint.

Cuing Tips for Bird Dog Pose

Bird Dog is an excellent yoga pose for strengthening the core and engaging the posterior oblique subsystem. A good cue for activating the latissimus dorsi muscle in this pose is to straighten the arm forward and then imagine pushing down with the hand against an immovable object (as shown with the dotted arrow). Alternatively, imagine pulling down on a rope with the forward hand. Combine this isometric contraction of the latissimus dorsi with engaging the gluteus maximus on the side of the lifted leg to augment the stabilizing effect on the SI joint.
Bird Dog Pose

(Figure 1: The posterior oblique subsystem and sacroiliac joint in Bird Dog Pose.)

With this in mind,  think about what other yoga poses can be used to activate the posterior oblique myofascial subsystem.

Reprinted with permission from

Read more from YogaUOnline: Dr. Ray Long on Stabilizing The Shoulder In Downward-Facing Dog.


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 artistic and technical in nature. As such, his work has spanned many genres, from film and television to videogames and underwater imagery.         

Recent articles


Upcoming courses

FREE 3-Part video series!

Yoga for
every body

How to Avoid the Top 3 Pitfalls of Forward Bends

With Julie Gudmedstad

Recent articles


Sorry, You have reached your
monthly limit of views

To access, join us for a free 7-day membership trial to support expanding the Pose Library resources to the yoga community.

Sign up for a FREE 7-day trial