The gluteus maximus is, as I call it in class, the big butt muscle. Don't get hung up on learning the Latin, unless that's your thing. Use language that you and your students can remember.
It - the gluteus maximus - has a few jobs. One of them, maybe it's most important job, is to help you externally rotate (turn out) your leg and hip.
Think about Tree Pose, or Vrksasana. Your lifted leg externally rotates and the glute max (as we cool kids call it) plays a big part in this action. You can learn to activate it intentionally to help with turning your leg out, and yoga helps with that. What yoga? That's a story for another day.
Your glute max ALSO helps adduct your hip (hugs your hip in). In tree pose your standing leg hip needs to hug in (adduct) and activating and strengthening this action of your glute max can help stabilize your standing standing poses - and standing in general.
The "hip dips" I show in this video will help you activate and strengthen as well as helping you get to know your gluteus maximus. As always, repeat on both sides.
And practice. Please practice.
PS. There is an extended director's cut video of this tip going up on my yoga Facebook page after dinner. It's time to go cook a #vegan Mexican meal in Amsterdam first.
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