“. . . according to the Yoga Sutra (3.1), the term [Bandha] refers to the ‘binding’ of consciousness to a particular object or locus (desha), which is the very essence of concentration.”
Georg Feuerstein



Thursday, April 7, 2016

Your Glutes and Lats in Bird Dog Pose

Hello Friends,

Once you learn the individual muscles, 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 poses. Groups of muscles, ligaments and fascia that function together are known as “subsystems”. In this post we examine 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 (as shown in the inset illustration). These structures operate synergistically with other groups of muscles, ligaments and fascia, particularly during rotational movements such as a golf swing. 

Figure 1 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. Click here to learn more about the thoracolumbar fascia and its important role in core stability.

Bird Dog is an excellent 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 immoveable object (as shown with the dotted arrow). Alternatively, imagine pulling down on a rope with the forward hand. Combine this isometric contraction of the lats with engaging the gluts on the side of the lifted leg to augment the stabilizing effect on the SI joint.



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


Click here to check our our previous post, "Connect Your Cuff to Your Core in Forearm Plank" and see how this subsystem works in plank pose. With this in mind, what other poses can be used to activate the posterior oblique myofascial subsystem? Place your answer in the comment section below…

Thanks for stopping by--I hope you're enjoying learning about biomechanical concepts like the myofascial subsystems and how they work in your poses. Stay tuned for the next post when I'll go over the hamstring connection to the pelvis and lumbar. Click here to browse through the Bandha Yoga book series on anatomy, biomechanics and physiology for yoga.


All the Best,


Ray Long, MD

13 comments:

  1. Thank-you so much for sharing your knowledge.

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  2. Question about the lifted leg. Should the foot and the toes of the lifted leg be pointed away from the hips like in your picture or should they be flexed and point down toward the floor.

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    1. Inna, I have replied and hopefully Ray will publish it, however if he's swamped, this is what I've written Ray, I love this pose. It ticks so many boxes. I would like to suggest that the extended foot is flexed and that the knee is straightened, this turning on the hamstrings. By doing this the hamstrings will further activate more of the flute fibres, putting more tension through the thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) . This being the main aim of the pose. Also cuing to pull in the 'abdominals' will put more tension on the TLF. Generally when the abdominals are contracted one can visibly see a slight reduction in the lumbar curve, so that the instructor is aware this last cue has been executed. (I work in a chiropractors teaching back rehab)

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    2. This is a good question. I usually suggest that the foot is flexed, as that provides some overall tension and stability in the leg. Maybe it would interfere with the glute tension... ?? Or maybe simply overstating the cues?

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  3. Thank you, this is excellent--your diagrams are so wonderful. I've been having spasms in my glut medius and can see that doing this pose will be very helpful and strengthening.

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  4. Ray, I love this pose. It ticks so many boxes. I would like to suggest that the extended foot is flexed and that the knee is straightened, this turning on the hamstrings. By doing this the hamstrings will further activate more of the flute fibres, putting more tension through the thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) . This being the main aim of the pose. Also cuing to pull in the 'abdominals' will put more tension on the TLF. Generally when the abdominals are contracted one can visibly see a slight reduction in the lumbar curve, so that the instructor is aware this last cue has been executed.

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  5. How could this be modified to target same muscles but without pressure on knee. Downdod may be an option but often too strong for students. Thank you!!

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  6. Agree on Warrior 3, also Utthita Parsvakonasana, Parivrtta Parsvakonasa, Ardha Salabhasana, Salabhasana with arms forward. Many thanks for the mini lessons. I have enjoyed them and it helps me keep the info in my brain. Much gratitude.

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  7. Great blog. After read this I'm really eager to learn yoga. Let me the yoga positions for beginners? and Trainers needed for basic yoga? Thanks for taking time to share great information. Now I understood the benefits of regularly doing Yoga. Keep blogging.

    Riley Martin from Yoga Retreats Australia

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  8. I've been training clients with minimal pelvic stability/pelvic awareness with bird dog, dying bug (w/straight arms and legs) and single leg Romanian dead lift (similar to warrior three). They have all had a tremendous increase in pelvic activation, and overall stability in every other exercise and in life. Love this pose!!

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  9. Parivrtta Ardha Chandrasana
    Parivrtta Hasta Padungastasana
    Salabasana with arms over head
    Urdhva Dhanurasana
    Virabadrasana III
    (Most backbends with arms over head)
    Standing Anahatasana
    Cresent asana
    Adho Muka Svanasana with leg lifted
    Low Anjanayasana
    Natarajasana

    That's all I can quickly think of. Fun test. Thanks for the quiz.

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  10. The information provided in this blog was really amazing. Thanks for sharing.
    with regards
    Reiki

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