Glute Amnesia: Yoga for Your Forgotten Rear

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The more you sit, the more you “forget” how to use your glutes! Forgetting how to use the biggest muscles in your body can lead to all kinds of problems with your core, back, hips, and knees, so here are my top 5 yoga poses to jog your glute memory and lose the glute amnesia.

Are you forgetting about your backside? If you spend most of your day sitting, there’s a good chance that you are suffering from glute amnesia.

The more you sit, the more you “forget” how to use your glutes! The glutes (mainly gluteus maximus) are muscles that cause hip extension, so sitting (hip flexion) stretches them out. The bad news is that holding a muscle in a stretch for over one minute has been shown to reduce the activity of that muscle for up to 24 hours! Also, you’re compressing the blood and oxygen out of your glutes by sitting on them, which can cause the nerves not to fire as well, which builds up of trigger points.

Forgetting how to use the biggest muscles in your body can lead to all kinds of problems with your core, back, hips, and knees, so here are my top yoga poses to jog your glute memory.

1. Glutes in Focus: Bharmanasana (Tabletop Pose) Kickbacks

Man practicing yoga bird dog sun-bird hunting dog pose

A recent study shows that bending your knees during hip extension activates your glutes more than if your legs are straight, so kick your heel to the sky!

  1. From Tabletop Pose, ground your left knee and your hands. Then lift your right leg up toward the ceiling, keeping the knee bent.
  2. Take a few breaths here and then lower your leg.
  3. Repeat on the left side.
  4. Repeat the lift on each side several times.

2. Strengthen Your Glutes with Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) with Block

Woman practicing yoga bridge pose, setu bandha sarvangasana, with yoga props

Another study shows that adduction during hip extension creates greater glute max activation. Squeeze a block between your thighs during Setu Bandha Sarvangasana to kick on your glutes more.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor (Constructive Rest position).
  2. Place a block between your knees in its narrowest dimension. Squeeze your knees into the block.
  3. Ground your feet and extend the knees outward from your pelvis to lift your hips.
  4. Take several breaths with the hips lifted.
  5. Lower the body back to the floor, continuing to hold the block.
  6. Repeat Bridge Pose several more times.

3. Activate the Back Line: Salabhasana (Locust Pose)

Man practicing Locust Pose to activate the entire back body including glutes

A great pose to activate your whole backline, low back, glutes, hamstrings, and all.

  1. From a prone position, place your arms alongside your body with your palms facing the floor.
  2. Slide your hands slightly under your pelvis.
  3. Lift both legs off the floor.
  4. Hold for several breaths and then lower the legs.
  5. Rest with your forehead in your hands.
  6. Repeat several more times.

4. Wake Up the Glutes: Vatayanasana (Horse Pose) to Utthita Tadasana (Star Pose)

Woman practicing yoga goddess pose, horse pose to activate the glute muscles.

Flowing between these two poses will start to wake your glutes up. Inhale to Star Pose and exhale to Horse Pose.

  1. From Tadasana (Mountain Pose), separate your legs wide apart, about the length of one of your legs.
  2. Turn your feet outward from about 45 degrees up to about 80 degrees, depending on the amount of external rotation in your hip joints. Exhale and bend your knees. Make sure your knees are aligned over your feet and not forward of the ankles. If the knees are extending forward of the ankles, rotate your feet inward enough to align your knees over your feet.
  3. Take a breath or two here in Horse Pose.
  4. Simultaneously rotate your feet back to face forward and straighten your knees as you inhale into Star Pose.
  5. Take a few breaths in Star Pose.
  6. Repeat the flow several times.

5. Remember your Glutes: Vasisthasana (Side Plank) with Abduction

Woman practicing yoga side plank vasisthasana- great for glutes.

Kick on your gluteus medius and minimus in this Vasisthasana variation to help all your glutes get to work.

  1. Lie on your right side, propped up on your right elbow. Turn your forearm to face straight forward. Rest your left arm on the left side of your body.
  2. Press downward with the right forearm and right foot to lift the right side of the body—from the chest to the ankle—off the floor.
  3. Raise your left arm up toward the ceiling, turning your palm forward.
  4. Lift your left leg off the right leg, extending it up toward the ceiling.
  5. Take a few breaths, then lower the leg back onto the right leg.
  6. Continuing to support yourself on your right forearm and elbow, lower the right side of the body back down to the floor.
  7. Rest for a few breaths.
  8. Repeat on the other side.

The best way to prevent glute amnesia is to avoid sitting as much as we do, but if you have to spend a lot of time sitting, try some of these poses to get your butt back in gear!

Reprinted with permission from

Dr. Nolan Lee is a yoga teacher and physical rehab specialist in Chicago, IL, with an extraordinary passion for understanding how the body moves and functions. Nolan has the unique ability to blend the science of anatomy with the art of yoga. With an active practice at this clinic, Balanced Flow Wellness, he practically applies yoga to restore and maintain health. Dr. Lee also holds a Master of Acupuncture degree and is a NASM-certified corrective exercise specialist (CES). He enthusiastically shares his knowledge of yoga and anatomy in lectures, workshops, and on his blog.

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