A few weeks ago I taught the first iteration of my new workshop, Posterior Chain Awakening. “Posterior Chain” is a favorite term in the personal training world and in physical therapy clinics, but it’s less known in the yoga sphere.
What is a Posterior Chain?
“Posterior chain” indicates the muscles (or myofascial network) on the back of our bodies. Most notably it includes the glutes, the hamstrings, the paraspinals (muscles on either side of our spine) and muscles between the shoulderblades.
Attention to the posterior chain should be a no-brainer for nearly all people who use chairs. It helps to balance the activity of sitting (hip flexion balanced with hip extension).
Why You Need It
Don’t get too caught up in what it is and isn’t: Posterior chain is not scientifically agreed-upon language. However, it’s great short-hand for recognizing that the back of our bodies often need more or different attention than the front of our bodies in any sort of movement practice. Of course this includes strength training at the gym, but it also includes yoga asana.
Sleepy glutes syndrome is a serious epidemic.
Here’s the thing: most vinyasa-based yoga practices excel at forward folds, quad strengthening, pec strengthening. They DON’T include enough gluteal and hamstring strengthening…by far. To be clear, it’s not because students are not in alignment. It’s 100% secondary to the fact that there is not enough active hip extension to balance the hip flexion in vinyasa.
What’s a Yogi to Do?
Here are some ideas — directly borrowed from my workshop — that will help to balance out this limitation, while still spending time on the mat:
Now it’s your turn. What are YOUR favorite yoga moves that engage glutes, hamstrings, scapular retractors or other posterior chain components? And if you teach yoga, how do you sneak these moves into your classes? Post away in the comments section below.