When you encounter your first few balance poses or asymmetrical standing poses in yoga, you’ll hear your teacher often say,
– “hug your outer hips in”
– “spin your inner thighs back”
– “level your pelvis”
And these probably won’t make sense to you at first… until you hold a balancing pose for more than five breaths and you start to feel that unforgettable burn at the side of the standing leg. That right there, is your outer hip, the muscle known as your Gluteus Medius.
The Gluteus Medius is the muscle we call on to “hug our outer hips in.” When we are in balancing poses, this muscle has to work extra hard to even out the pelvis and keep the hip from jutting out, which is why we feel it burn. When the muscle contracts, it hugs the femur closer to the hip socket and brings the lifted hip down, thereby “leveling out the pelvis” and giving us more stability.
This muscle also brings the leg away from the midline, and internally rotates the leg bone (femur) at the hip. That’s why we usually accompany the first cue with a follow up to “spin your inner thighs back.”
When she isn’t drawing body parts, you can find Tami Ledesma teaching Vinyasa, FNR, Gentle Flow, and Pre-Natal yoga at Urban Ashram, or pulsing among her students at Barre3. Follow her asana adventures on Instagram at @movewithtami.