Friday, December 6, 2013

Fitness Friday - Yoga Bridge Pose

We are back on yoga poses for this week's and next week's Fitness Friday.  Today we are looking at Bridge Pose and then we will be looking more at Shoulder Stand next week.  Bridge is one of the preparatory poses for Shoulder Stand and belongs to the family of Backbend Poses.  Bridge is a very versatile pose, I have done it to get ready for Shoulder Stand and to begin preparations for more inversion poses.  I have also done this pose in a more supported fashion using well placed blocks during a  restorative yoga session.  Nearly anyone can perform this pose in the supported fashion, we will look at the true pose and then I will provide details on how to modify the position as needed. 

Yoga Journal provides steps to safely get into the pose...

- Lie supine on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.

- Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.

- Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.

- Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it's resting on the blanket) up into the torso.

- Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.

To modify the pose into Supported Bridge, place a block under the sacrum and rest right on it.  This modification makes the pose more restorative and is a wonderful addition to a nighttime routine.  The modification is best used to start the position and by anyone that feels any type of twinge or pain in their lower back when getting into the full pose.  I have been trying to deepen my pose by getting my shoulders closer and closer together each time and then lifting even higher to deepen the back bend. 

Bridge is one of the most versatile yoga poses, it can be relaxing or challenging based on how deep you wish to get into the pose.  I have found that this pose helps to work out the cramps that I can get in my shoulders when writing blog posts and graduate school papers and I have been using this pose more and more as the semester is coming to a close.  Next week, we are going to look at how to start in Bridge position and then begin to experiment with yoga inversions by pushing up into Shoulder Stand.

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

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