Dubai 100hr Hatha Yoga Teacher Training in February 2017 by Kreg Weiss
Question by Yoga student:
Should you squeeze or relax your glutes in cobra? I had a couple of teachers say to squeeze in classes and that jams my low back. When they are relaxed I can go deeper into the pose. What is the correct cue, please?
Answered by Kreg Weiss:
Here’s what I’ve been able to ‘gather’ for the pros and cons to the glute squeeze
cue in cobra pose.
Pros (reason for doing the glute squeeze):
*Engagement of the gluteus maximus drives hip extension that generates a posterior pelvic tilt. This cue is usually aimed at helping people reduce negative compression of the lumbar spine as many people overextend (by default) into their lower back in cobra pose. The posterior tilt of the pelvis draws the lumbar spine out of its’ lordotic curve and requires the backbend to be distributed more up into the thoracic region.
Cons (a variety of perspectives):
*Engagement of the gluteus maximus (particularly the upper fibres) tends to also lead to external rotation of the hip/thigh since those fibres attach to the fascia lines of the TFL. This promotes improper engagement patterns of the gluteus maximus in other poses like bridge, warrior 3, and drop backs.
*The gluteus maximus partially interconnects with the sacrum – some believe glut engagement can place ‘jamming’ stresses into the SI joint.
*Some believe that excessive engagement of the gluts (and an overly exaggerated posterior tilt) can send too much of the back bend into the thoracic spine leading to compressive stress higher up the spine.
Overall, there is no right way to do cobra pose.
Some people have less space between their spinous processes of the vertebrae of the lumbar region. A pelvic tilt is beneficial to most people – how much all depends on the individual. For me, knowing that glut engagement poses potential issues, I prefer to generate the pelvic tilt with the abdominal muscles instead – this generates an eccentric activation of the abdominals (lengthening while contracting, thus a great functional way to train the core). So, I typically cue people to work from the belly to protect the back lines and yes, I, ask people to relax the gluts.
What is fundamental is that we teach our students to embrace their structural variability. Ask people to recognize all sensations and the relationship that they are having with those sensations. Encourage people to stay low in their cobra at first and appreciate if this degree of the pose is ideal – they will acquire great benefits just lifting the trunk a couple inches off the ground. If the students wish to rise higher, remind them to play with different degrees of pelvic tilts (via the abdominals) and to always come back to the reason of being in the pose – not for performance or aesthetics, but to acquire a balance of functional strength, stability, and space. There are no set alignment cues for any pose – as long as we know why and how to do these cues (what is the anatomy and biomechanics behind them) and how they may or may not apply to different body types, we are then more empowered to be unique and exploratory. When this approach sets in, our vocabulary and conversation as teachers become immensely different and more authentic.
TESTIMONIALS | GRADUATES OF KREG WEISS HATHA YOGA TEACHER TRAINING IN DUBAI
“I really enjoyed my training with Kreg and each of them brought some interesting perspectives to my current practice. As soon as I enter the room I felt relax, at ease and ready to explore Kreg’s practice.. It was such a great feeling. What I really liked about these sessions was the connection I had to my body during the practice, to the postures and the way we worked on the transition between postures. Each transition allowed me to go deeper into the stretch, pushing boundaries without hurting my body. It was almost like the body was expanding as we were going through the sequences. I also had on both evenings of the sessions a very good energy. Thank you for this experience and I hope we will have more to come! ” K.M
“First of all I would like to thank you for these amazing breathtaking wow-days and all the knowledge you gave us. I found out about my body anatomy, how the bones, muscles and joints move under my skin and how they influence one another. Now I know how to bend forward safely for my spine and being “Bendy Wendy” is not always good. And not everyone can be as flexible as another. If one side of my body can do more than the other I should stop where the other side stops, without pushing my body. I can now explain how to safely move into Downward Dog, plank, dancing cat and how to specific muscles in these poses. I now know so much more! I love the mudras and pranayama and will integrate them in my daily practice. Your approach to teaching is so unique and beautiful!” Daria Issina
“I love anatomy and I think it’s fascinating to truly understand how our body works. One of the best things about developing and having a yoga practice is how it connects us with our physical body. I remember when I started practicing yoga, even though I had been active my whole life, I start to discover my body in a whole new way. My muscles were opening up and it was a sort of re-discovering of each muscle, how they supported each other, which ones were working in each pose, etc. I simply loved the way Kreg made all the poses look so simple…thank you from the bottom of my heart” Nina Dubash
“Thank you again for such a fantastic course. You are a wonderful teacher and your knowledge and passion for your subject truly inspirational. In my next life, should I have one, I will be a yogi-physiotherapist and the anatomy-yoga encyclopedia that you are going to write will be my bible! If only I’d known 35 years ago that this is what I should have done” Anne van der Velden
“This was an unforgettable and new experience I have obtained from your training. From my perspective as a beginner, it was absolutely profound and very knowledgeable. You have a talent of teaching and delivering the information in a very comprehensive way that everyone would absorb and definitely apply in their practice” Julia
“Noura, as you told me before the workshop: you are going to love it, and this happened! Beside of being a wonderful “warm-hearted” person, Kreg really wanted us to share and absorb as much as possible of his knowledge and his teaching. The material, the readings he gave us every day just excellent. I’m going back with both a broader knowledge and wider view on yoga and not JUST yoga. So thank you so much Noura for making this happen. You know you have my highest esteem!” Alessandra
“Generous , responsible , attentive, competent & fun, what else could a student ask for ? Seriously! I guess we can get trained in many things in life, but I don’t think we can teach people to carry a golden heart, or you have it or you don’t. Kreg does ! Thanks Noura for organizing this workshop.” Adriana MeBarr