Should you squeeze or relax your glutes in cobra pose?


Cobra Pose in Yoga

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.

100hr Hatha Yoga Teacher Training in Dubai by Kreg Weiss


“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


Rock Climber’s Essence of Receptivity and Yoga | Hatha Yoga Teacher Training in Dubai by Kreg Weiss, Feb 2017


yoga rock climbers.jpg

100hr Integrative Hatha Yoga Teacher Training with Kreg Weiss
February 24 – March 7, 2017
Dubai, UAE

“I was thinking yesterday of how experienced rock climbers (note: never actually done it myself) emulate how a yoga practice can be – highly saturated with a sense of mindful engagement and receptivity.  The skill and agility applied in rock climbing requires a delightful balance of knowing how to engage regions of the body that require stabilization and strength while, at the same time, being able to remain free, open, and receptive to move through large, complex movements.  Is this not what is required of us when moving on the mat?

My interpretation of receptivity on the mat is the evolving process of developing the awareness to engage the body while knowing how to soften at the same time.   Some of my common cues as a yoga teacher address the subtle gripping and bracing that occurs in stimulating poses.  Often I see people clenching their jaws, flaring the nostrils, or closing off the eyebrows – this is gripping.  Frequently, I observe toes grasping and clawing the earth in standing poses.  All unnecessary, unaware holding and ultimately poorly directed energy.

The opposite occurs frequently as well with a lack of necessary engagement  – I find this readily happens when students settle their attention on the immediate, ‘gross’ objectives of the postures.  While one region of the body experiences the primary engagement of the pose, other parts of the body become nonexistent.  Good example is seated half twist (bottom leg extended).  As the student twists and sends the gaze away from the body, the extended leg ankle becomes limp and unpurposeful – here is the opportunity to open the back lines of that extended leg by feeding through the heel (knee extension) and by working energy through the ankle and across the toes (ankle dorsiflexion and toe abduction).  Alas, often not the case and that leg remains a soft noodle.

Taking the idea of unnecessary gripping and bracing further, the ultimate aim of our practice is to create a stable, yet supple vessel for energy to move through and ignite the soul.  This flow of energy is greatly facilitated by our breath.  Wasteful gripping and hardening can restrict our breathing mechanics and capacity to draw in prana.  How often we do hear our yoga neighbors in class snorting and puffing away with their breath when trying reach past the toes in seated forward bends?  They would be better served to ease off, realign, reassess, and dissolve the drive towards the ‘challenge’ of the pose.  Nurturing intentions begin to flourish when the breath acts as the gauge that monitors quality over quantity.  Harmony over desire.

These elements of receptivity are essential for being exploratory and for having the ability to align into your unique physical and energetic practice.   Rigidity limits playfulness.  Lack of mindful engagement diminishes purpose and benefits.  Find that balance, like a rock climber, becoming one with the practice (with the mountain face) versus seeing it as a barrier and being rigid against it.  Become fully in tune in how to apply the fire element in certain parts while using the water element to remain receptive, supple, and flowing.” – Kreg Weiss,

Kreg Weiss Hatha Yoga Teacher Training

These aspects of receptivity will be a common thread woven into the upcoming 100 Hr Integrative Hatha Yoga Teacher Training in February 2017

Join Kreg to learn how to effectively apply these principles of mindful engagement and to extract the most holistic benefits from your practice and teaching.

On this 12 day program, you will explore functional yoga, journey through in-depth applications of yoga postures and learn how to tie in all these principles to design multiple yoga classes for a variety of clientele and demographics. This training is an excellent foundation for practicing yogis who may be keen to enroll into a 200hr as the next transition and active teachers keen to solidify their knowledge in hatha yoga and expand their clientele base.

Click Here to Read More | Register Today

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Dubai Yoga Therapeutics Teacher Training with Zephyr Wildman, April 29 – May 3, 2016



Dubai Yoga Trainings Certifications

Are you a yoga teacher or advanced student aiming to develop your yoga therapeutics background and work with clients who’re living with chronic illness/injuries, as well as older age groups and corporates dealing with stress? Knowing how to work with these specific groups will deepen your confidence as a teacher, expand the range of private clients you can work with and increase the types of classes you can offer.
The objective of Zephyr Wildman’s 5 day/30 Applied Yoga Therapeutics Teacher Training in Dubai  on April 29- May 3, 2016 is specifically geared towards trainees that are already yoga teachers/instructors and/or advanced students looking to further their understanding of muscles structure, common ailments/injuries and wish to support and treat clients and students suffering from those conditions through effective yoga therapy and application by addressing specific needs of individuals and groups, emphasise communication skills, observation, assisting and correcting yoga postures and specifically instruct trainees on manual adjustments and massage techniques.


•   Improve your expertise of optimal mind-body system functions and body awareness during a state of dynamic balance.
•   Educate you on skeletal, muscular and fascial structures of the body
•   How to tailor yoga therapy to the health needs of the individual in a way which is effective at reducing symptoms, restoring balance, increasing vitality and improving attitude.
•   Help you recognise unhealthy physical, psychological and spiritual patterns in their clients and in themselves.
•   Create assessment techniques that are bespoke to their clients and to themselves.
•   Create and use different techniques such as massage, stretching, breathing exercises, strengthening and different methods of yoga to emphasise prevention of pain and aid the recovery back to balance.
•   Inspire you to approach yoga philosophy with a value of teaching yoga as a service and being of service to others through yoga.


5 DAY SCHEDULE / 9:00AM-5:00PM
LUNCH BREAK 12:30-2:00PM

Day 1: Foundations of Yoga as Therapy. Introduction to the 5 Koshas 
Students will be introduced to the concept of the “Middle Path” through a lecture on the philosophical and practical approach to working therapeutically with people’s injuries, ailments, mental health, chronic pain and addiction. Using the modality of the Koshas, we will dissect each sheath individually with applied philosophy to treat an individual or class effectively. The emphasis for Day 1 will be creating a foundation to be referenced throughout the week, observing, identifying, assessing and understanding:
  • common structural problems
  • patterns of movement
  • Ayurvedic imbalances
  • Pranic problems in the body, mind and biochemistry
  • Prana Vayus
  • Swara
  • Chakras
  • Nadis
  • Patanjali’s map of the mind
  • Kleshas
  • Rasas
  • Gunas
  • and more
After our morning of building a good foundation for the concept of the “Middle Path” and introducing individual assessment skills we will apply customised sequences inspired by the Koshas. Asana, pranayama, meditation and massage will be our tools to treat common imbalances and pain that will be generalised for this first session. The sequencing will be discussed in great depth to ensure understanding and connectivity of correct assessment and application of treatment.
Day 2: Postural integrity and the spine 
Why do physical manifestations of mental issues arise? How can our mental state dictate our physical and energetic health?
With a thorough comprehension of the Koshas and a holistic approach to balance, students will now begin to look at specific alignment issues and causes of pain with a focus on the spine and postural integrity. Evaluation of posture will be our focus for the morning, however it takes more than just “good” posture to maintain “good” health and balance. We will explore methods of assessing problems with movement issues, the three diaphragms and we will also discuss the myofascial planes. We will assess techniques for dealing with Flexion and Extension Syndrome, while putting a special focus on understanding the focal points of weakness and stability and how they are affected by our lifestyle and genetic predisposition.
After a morning of theory and observation we will put into practice some application techniques utilising yoga asana, pranayama, kriyas and basic massage techniques that have been effective in reducing chronic pain and common conditions of the spine and posture.
Day 3: Feet, knees and hips
Balance of lifestyle and genetic predispositions. How do lifestyle choices effect the foundations of postural integrity?
This morning’s lecture will focus on anatomy and function of the feet, knees and hips. Working from the ground up, we will learn to see the body in action and how the interconnected lines of intelligence inform our patterns of movement and pain. Literally the foundations of our bodies health and balance, we will evaluate the alignment of the feet and legs and discuss how to assess alignment highlighting common problems, misalignments and causes of pain.
The metaphor for the Middle Path as our centre of balance is well illustrated in the application of techniques for this afternoon’s session. By looking at the feet, knees and hips as the foundation for the spine and the connections the spine has to the rest of the body we understand that this foundation is critical to supporting that well being and balance for the entire body. We will use yoga asana and massage techniques as well as customised sequencing to affect long term healing.
Day 4: Pelvic girdle
Everything is related and interconnected. The importance of creating a strong foundation (feet, knees, hips) to address the rest of the body.
This morning’s lecture will explore in depth the structural alignment issues, anatomy, muscles and function of the Pelvic Girdle. We will discuss and develop techniques for assessing problem areas and imbalance within the uniqueness of every pelvis. A keen attention to detail will aid the student to look at the alignment and observe and identify misalignment. We will discuss common problems and causes of pain, and most importantly how the pelvic girdle influences structural alignment for the rest of the body.
Hands on practice of applying the morning’s lecture and developing techniques that build alignment, flexibility and stability of the pelvis. Applying yoga asana and teaching basic massage techniques to alleviate misalignments and pain due to everyday lifestyle problems.
Day 5: Shoulder girdle
Psycho-emotional and subtle body (two of the koshas) imbalances and their connection to the pelvis. The importance of identifying problems with the pelvis and understanding their connectivity to other vulnerable areas of the body.
This morning’s lecture will be centred on the anatomy and function of the shoulder girdle. We will observe how improving range of motion can ease chronic pain in areas around the shoulder, neck and head, especially when the individual has experienced injury in these areas. We will pay close attention to evaluating posture and what it tells us about the state of the shoulder girdle. Observing the alignment and correctly ascertaining the causes of imbalance are crucial to this area as its range of motion and susceptibility to injury make it one of the more complex areas of focus.
Applying yoga asana and basic massage techniques that help to extend the range of motion with a specific injury related approach (e.g.,frozen shoulder, rotator cuff injury) will be unique to this afternoon’s application.

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