One of the best things about yoga is how the various poses and breath practices can often be used in multiple ways. Today we’ll be exploring how Bridge Posture is a strengthening and energizing posture but depending on the variation of the posture you choose, it can also be a resting inversion, supported backbend and a hip release. Next week, we will look at Bridge Pose from the perspective of Yoga Therapy.
Bridge is considered a hip opener, glute and thigh strengthener, a backbend (it creates strength in your posture muscles) and an inversion. That’s a lot going on in one posture.
In Sanskrit, Setu is “across” and Bhanda means to bind. In essence, we are making a bind across – like a bridge.
It’s important to remember that there are always modifications for the pose, so practice at your own pace. To modify bridge you can do the following:
Only lift to your comfort level
Keep your hands at your sides, palms up or down
Lift and lower into and out of the posture rather than holding the posture
When you practice bridge keep your breath even, deep and slow. Imagine you are making a bridge over a peaceful pond as you come into the posture. Remember, it will feel different breathing while upside down and in a backbend.
With practice, you might just find that your posture improves and counteracts sitting at a desk or working on a computer.
Here are instructions for coming into and out of the Bridge Posture:
- Lie on your back with your arms close to your sides and knees bent. Your feet should be parallel and close to the buttocks.
- Exhale as you press down through the soles of your feet, engage your abdominal muscles, thighs, and buttocks, and lift your pelvis off the mat.
- Breathe deeply and relax your neck.
- Begin to pull your shoulder blades closer together and lift your chest towards your chin.
- Walk your shoulder blades closer to each other and clasp your hands under your body. Reach the knuckles towards the feet.
- Take 3-6 breaths here.
- To release the posture, inhale as you release your hands and widen your scapulae.
- Exhale and lower your spine, then extend your legs. Let your spine rest in neutral for a few breaths.
To create more strength in the body and play with using the various muscles in different ways, try these variations:
- Once you are in the posture, lift your toes. Press your heels toward the earth and feel your glutes engage.
- Once in the posture, “pull” the heels toward the buttocks isometrically and feel the legs engage.
- Rather than keep your arms at your sides or under the body, reach the arms overhead and elongate from the fingers to your knees.
To see video instructions on getting into Bridge pose, please visit Jacci’s YouTube page.