Does Yoga Tone Your Glutes? + 12 Glute Targeting Yoga Poses

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You probably already know yoga is a beautiful spiritual practice. But does yoga tone your glutes too? Yes!

If you’ve been working towards creating a perkier backside, then keep reading to deepen your practice with 12 glute toning yoga poses.

The asana (physical practice) in yoga invites us to move our bodies in many different planes, angles, and alignments. Much like your typical workout! Breath is also a key component in encouraging each pose to flow into the next. 

It’s a lot like when you are ready to quit on the stair master but choose to focus on your breath to get those few extra steps. Well, the main difference between yoga practice and your typical workout is the amplified spiritual, mind, body, and soul connection components. 

In this article we will explore:

  • What Are The Glutes?
  • Why are activated glutes important in your yoga practice?
  • And 12 glute toning yoga poses for a perky peach!
  • Which Yoga Pose Targets The Glutes The Most?
illustrations of lots of different women's butts

What Are The Glutes?

1. Gluteus Maximus

The gluteus maximus is the largest, most superficial of the three muscles. It makes up most of the shape and form of the buttock and hip area.

So, we definitely want to target the gluteus maximus to achieve those peach-shaped, yoga booty goals.

2. Gluteus Medius

The gluteus medius is less superficial than the gluteus maximus. It lies between the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus. Its posterior is covered by the gluteus maximus, while the anterior two-thirds are superficial and covered only by a strong layer of deep fascia.

3. Gluteus Minimus

And last, but not least: the gluteus minimus. The gluteus medius is assisted by the gluteus minimus to be a primary hip abductor. The gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus act from the pelvis to abduct the thigh and rotate it internally. 

a woman doing a squat in grey workout clothes

Why are activated glutes important in your yoga practice?

Does yoga tone your glutes? Yes!

The glutes play a key role in stabilizing the body while holding standing postures and executing pose variation. Glute activation can also provide more extension space in backbends and ultimately allows us to power through when holding more activated postures.

Naturally, we spend a good amount of the day sitting which weakens the glutes. The activation and stretching of our glutes that occurs within our yoga practice creates an opportunity for these muscles to continue to strengthen and function in a healthy manner.

Glute activation can also take pressure off the lower back, or sacrum area, and prevent knee injuries. 

Now that we understand why our glutes are so important for our yoga practice, let’s dive into 12 poses that activate and tone our glutes! 

Here are 12 glute toning yoga poses to incorporate into your practice for that perky, plump booty!

#1: Bridge

a woman doing a glute bridge with her laptop open

Lay flat on your back. Bend your knees while keeping your feet connected to your mat. Allow your arms to lay flat, palms facing down. Take a deep inhale and on your exhale press into your feet at you raise your hips. Engage your glutes to lift your hips higher to the sky.

#2: Lunge Variations/ crescent lunge/devotional or humble warrior

Inhale one foot to the front of your mat while keeping the heel lifted on the foot at the back of your mat. Exhale bringing the back knee down to mat. Press into your hips and lift your arms on the inhale for Crescent Lunge.

Press your hands back into the mat on your exhale. Inhale to lift your back knee off the mat and come to standing. Exhale, as you clasp your hands together at your lower back. Inhale your chest up as you allow your clasped hands to travel further down the back.

On your exhale, bend into your front knee and lower your chest down to the inside of your front bent knee. Keep your hands clasped as you inhale your arms over your head for Devotional or Humble warrior.

Feel the outer glute activation and stretch as you stabilize your body in this posture. 

#3: Warrior Three – or any variation

a woman in warrior 3 on a purple yoga mat

All the Warrior postures are glute toning; especially Warrior Three.

You can transition to this posture from any lunge variation by opening up your back foot at a 45-degree angle. In other words, perpendicular to the front foot. Allow your hip to stay square to the front of your mat. 

Inhale arms to the sky. On your exhale, lean forward as you lift your back leg off the mat. Keep your arms stretched out in front of you as your back leg stretches the back body. 

The weight here is on the not active leg which provides glute toning, but the real star is the glutes holding up that flying leg as you lean forward! Engage your glutes and core in this posture to remain stable and create more extension. 

#4: Half Moon

Allow your back foot to come down from Warrior Three and meet the mat. Take a deep breath as you inhale your arms long into Warrior Two. Exhale to shift your hips toward the long edge side of your mat. On your next exhale, allow your front palm to meet the mat or a block. 

Begin to inhale your back leg off the mat. Props are always there for extra support. You will still be engaging that glute if you choose to bring your bottom hand to a block versus the mat. The goal here for glute engagement is to keep the flying leg suspended in the air. 

#5: Chair pose + Revolved Chair Pose

a woman in chair pose in her bedroom

For chair pose, you want to bring both legs together. As you exhale to sit your hips back as you would to sit in a chair. As you inhale lift your arms to the sky. 

To activate your glutes even further, bring your hands and elbows together at heart center. Twist your core and bring your elbow to the outside of each knee for Revolved Chair Pose.

You will need to do this on both sides to even out.

#6: Eagle

Eagle is a heightened variation of chair pose. You can also incorporate the twist from Chair Pose here to further activate your glutes. Bring your legs together and exhale your hips back (again as if you are sitting in a chair). 

On your inhale extend your hands to the sky. While your arms are up, cross one over the other, now twist the arms until the palms meet. If that isn’t accessible, allow the bottom hand to meet the back of the top hand. 

Keep the palm facing forward. Now moving into your lower body, cross one leg over the other. Typically keeping what’s already crossed in your top half in mind, cross the same way for the bottom half.

Sit your hips back and tone those glutes in eagle pose. Be sure to do both sides!

#7: Malasana

a woman in a deep yoga squat in her room

Malasana is a yogi squat! Open those knees wide. Sit your hips back and meet your hands in prayer at heart center. Allow your elbows to press into the sides of your knees to create a deeper hip opener and release of the lower back.

In this posture, the most muscle tension is held in the base of the glutes just as in regular squats. Hold for a while, coming out of it when you need to, then go back in!

This is a deep hip opener on top of being a glute toner…so breathing key.

#8: Tree

Stand tall in your body. Lifting one leg while bearing the weight on the opposite leg. Bring the raised foot to the inside of the calf or inside of the thigh. Please avoid placing your foot on your knee to prevent injury. 

You want to swing your knee open like a car door to activate the glute through hip abduction. Inhale your arms over your head.

The abduction happening in tree pose nicely targets the gluteus medius.

Discover 17 variations of Tree pose variations to enhance your yoga practice.

#9: Locust

two people in a hot yoga studio doing locust pose

Start on your belly. Allow the arms to lay flat initially, palms facing down, beside you. On the inhale lift your chest, arms, and legs. Lower on each exhale. 

To safely execute this posture, engage the glutes and press your hips into the mat. This will provide support to your lower back while also toning and strengthening those glutes!

10: Downward Facing Dog and Three Legged Downward Facing Dog

From your belly, press into your hands and feet and you lift your hips to the sky. Spread open your fingers, press into the palm, and shift your chest in towards your legs to fully activate this stretch. 

To heighten this posture for glute toning switch to Three Legged Downward Facing Dog. Take turns on each inhale lifting one leg towards the sky and lowering on the exhale. You are switching legs on each inhale!

#11: Bird Dog

This is a variation of Downward Facing Dog Splits. You can come down to hands and knees for this posture. Extend opposite hand and foot. Engage your abdominals and glutes to lengthen. 

It can also be helpful to imagine your hands being pulled forward and your leg being pulled back. This will create more tension and toning for the glutes!

Add in some core activation to your glute toning practice by bringing opposite elbow to meet opposite knee. 

Once again, be sure to do each side!

#12: Upward Plank

a man in upward plank  on a yoga mat in a park

This is a plank in the opposite direction to give more activation and toning opportunity for the glutes. Start seated, extend your legs, press into the hands, drive the heels into the mat, and lift the hips. Engage your glutes for lower back support. 

Check out these 9 plank variations to strengthen your core and shake up your yoga practice.

Which Yoga Pose Targets The Glutes The Most?

A study published in the National Library of Medicine documented which yoga poses elicited the highest gluteus maximus and gluteus medius activation. Which pose do you think came in at number one? 

The highest percentage of activation in the gluteus maximus at 63.3% MVIC on the lifted back leg and 61.7% on the standing leg is…. Half Moon pose. The gluteus medius activation percentage closely followed at 46.1% and 41.9%. 

Curious about the pose that came in second place? 

The award goes to…. Warrior Three pose!

So, there you have it! Does yoga tone your glutes? – Yes! You now have a better understanding of the glute muscle structure, the importance of strong glutes for your yoga practice, and what poses activate the glute muscles.

Enjoy your practice and let us know what poses you enjoy the most! 

And all though it may be tempting… checking those glutes after each of your yoga sessions won’t make them grow any faster. Just keep at it and have fun adding in the suggested poses to deepen your practice and grow closer to your glute goals!

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Frandasia Williams, best known as Frannie, is the Owner and Founder of Guided Surrender, LLC. A home for healing. A safe space for women to be vulnerable while receiving guidance, support, and comfort on the journey towards healing. Frannie is a Certified Yoga Instructor, Reiki Practitioner, and Soul Centered Coach. She guides overextended, high achieving women to becoming SELF FIRST and manifest new beginnings through healing at the soul level. In her free time you can find her bundled up on the couch with a cup of tea, a good book, or binge watching Netflix.

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