“. . . 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

How to Use Nutation to Refine Uttanasana, Part III—A Fringe Benefit

In our last post, Part II of this series on Uttanasana, we gave a trick for engaging the tensor fascia lata (TFL) and gluteus medius. Contracting these muscles allows us to access movement at the sacroiliac joint and aids to protect against hyperflexion of the lumbar spine.

gluteus medius and tensor fascia lata in uttanasana
Countering external rotation of the
 femurs with the gluteus medius
and tensor fascia lata.
Now, when we do a forward bend from the hips, the gluteus maximus stretches. This produces a pull on the femurs that can externally rotate them and turn the kneecaps slightly outwards. Ideally we would like the kneecaps to face directly forward. An added benefit of engaging the TFL and gluteus medius is that it internally rotates the thighs. The gluteus minimus contributes to this action when the hips are flexing. This counteracts the pull of the stretching gluteus maximus and brings the kneecaps to face forward—the optimal form of the pose. Access this fringe benefit by fixing the feet on the mat and gently attempting to drag them apart.  Feel how this internally rotates the thighs.

Then try activating the TFL and gluteus medius in seated forward bends. For example, in Upavistha Konasana, the cue for this is to press the heels into the floor and try to drag them apart. You can also press the outer edges of the feet or lower legs into the hands for a similar effect. Feel how these techniques deepen and refine your forward bends.

Remember to use gentle force with these cues. Train yourself to moderate engaging and releasing the muscles when sculpting the form of your poses.

An excerpt from "Yoga Mat Companion 2 - Hip Openers and Forward Bends.
An excerpt from "Yoga Mat Companion 2 - Hip Openers and Forward Bends.

Thanks for checking in. We’ll see you for the next post on how to use the abdominals to release the muscles of the lower back in Uttanasana.

We hope you’ll also take a moment to browse through our books on the right side of the page to learn many more of these cues for a variety of poses.


Ray and Chris


  1. i really like the incremental additions to a particular pose, thanks!

  2. Please do make your books available on Kindle. I tried to buy them on amazon and found we can only buy the hard copy. For traveling folks like myself, and I guess for people who have space constraints, an eBook version is very much needed. Regards

  3. Btw the pictures would look fabulous on the Ipad

  4. Hi Ramesh,
    Kindle is certainly something that we're looking into. Thanks for your comment.
    Ray and Chris

  5. Hi Ray & Chris,

    Your books are required reading for all of my Yoga Tune Up® Training modules. I instruct nutation and counter-nutation and am SO HAPPY at how clearly you have presented this important action and its biomechanical environment in this blog flow. THANKS! Keep it up!


    CONGRATS! :)

  7. Wouldn't you say that it is rather gluteus minimus that rotates the femur internally and to a lesser extent the gluteus medius which is more connected to the lateral / external rotation sequences?

  8. Hi Sven,

    The more anterior placed fibers of the gluteus medius contribute to internal rotation. When the hip is in flexion, so does the gluteus minimus. These muscles combine with the TFL to produce internal rotation. When in extension (backbends etc), the posteriorly placed fibers of the gluteus medius contribute and the gluteus minimus becomes and external rotator.
    Thanks--I'll clarify it in the post.



  9. Hi There,
    Love your post. Are the new editions outlined in this manner, describing how minor micro movements create more openings? Thanks for the post, wonderful!

  10. Hi Tina,

    The books are full of similar details in all of the categories of asana. You can page through each book in its entirety on our website. www.bandhayoga.com