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Doubtlessly embarrassing confession time! After I first began working towards yoga, I believed that Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) was just the start a part of Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward-Dealing with Bow or Wheel Pose). I actually didn’t perceive that it was its personal pose till I took my first yoga instructor coaching.
Even after I lastly realized that Bridge was an precise pose unto itself and had its very personal Sanskirt title, I continued to deal with it as an extension of Upward Bow. That point corresponded with a interval in my follow —and my life—the place I believed I all the time wanted to do extra to really feel fulfilled. I needed to have all of the cutest Lululemon outfits for sophistication. I needed to train extra courses a day than anybody I knew. And I needed to do Upward-Dealing with Bow each single follow.
I’d drive myself previous Bridge into Upward-Dealing with Bow every follow, whether or not my physique was ready or not. If a instructor was cueing Bridge however not Upward-Dealing with Bow, or even when we weren’t doing these backbends in school, I’d ignore everybody else and pop proper up into the pose. I’m fairly positive I’d additionally drop again into it from standing after which stand proper again up, too. (My deepest apologies to any academics if I did this in your class!)
After a extreme overuse damage in my shoulder that led to surgical procedure, I wasn’t in a position to pop up into something. I needed to dial my bodily follow approach again, particularly poses that engaged the shoulders. My restoration was lengthy and irritating and required me to learn to get snug working towards much less intense poses. Whereas Upward-Dealing with Bow had been my desert island pose, Bridge Pose in a short time turned my go-to backbend.
After I slowed down and realized to actually work on tucking my shoulders and arms beneath me in Bridge, I really began to really feel extra of a chest opening than once I used to disregard it and pop up into straight arms.
These days, I’m fairly content material to remain in Bridge Pose. I nonetheless consider it as an important prep pose for Urdhva Dhanurasana, though I additionally deeply respect it for all that it brings to my follow, particularly given all of the wonderful variations we will discover.
7 methods to vary up your Bridge Pose
Easy methods to come into Bridge Pose
Lie in your again, bend your knees, and place your ft on the mat hip-distance aside. Align your ankles beneath your knees and produce your arms alongside your physique. On an inhalation, carry your hips. See beneath for choices on how one can prop the pose or add arm or leg options. When you’re prepared to come back down, exhale and slowly decrease your again to the ground.
1. Clasp your arms
The “conventional” Bridge Pose is usually taught interlacing the fingers beneath you.You additionally discover this grip in lots of different poses, together with Humble Warrior and Prasarita Padottanasana C. Within the YogaWorks technique I train, we name this grip the “C-clasp.”
From Bridge Pose, stroll your higher arms beneath you and roll your internal arms towards the outer fringe of the mat in exterior rotation and interlace your fingers behind your again. If you happen to really feel prefer it’s a battle to stay clasped, attempt a distinct arm possibility beneath.
2. Maintain the perimeters of the mat
This variation encourages the deep exterior rotation in your shoulders that’s vital earlier than you possibly can deliver your arms beneath your physique to clasp your arms. It’s a way more accessible approach for many our bodies to follow Bridge Pose since many people are restricted in how far we will open our shoulders. I discover this variation brings extra of a stretch throughout my chest than clasping.
From Bridge Pose, seize onto and maintain the perimeters of the mat, palms down, whereas urgent down via your higher arms.
3. “Seashore ball” arms
You may give attention to opening your higher again, greater than your chest, by not clasping in any respect.
From Bridge Pose, carry up onto the outer fringe of your forearms, along with your pinky facet of your hand on the mat like a karate chop. Stroll your shoulders beneath you and, fairly than clasping your arms or grabbing the mat, isometrically squeeze your higher arms, forearms, and palms towards one another, as if you’re holding an imaginary seashore ball. This variation can generally assist us get increased on our shoulders than clasping, which emphasizes the arching within the higher again.
4. Supported Bridge
After I inform college students that they’ll go from Bridge Pose into Upward-Dealing with Bow, I usually say, “Or you possibly can take probably the most ‘superior’ variation of all: Supported Bridge.” Counting on the assist of a block locations this pose within the class of restorative yoga. The braveness it takes to confess we want relaxation—and to then take that relaxation—is rather more of an “superior” follow than mindlessly popping into the deepest form like I used to do.
From Bridge Pose, while you carry your hips, place the block low and large beneath you and settle your sacrum down onto it. (The sacrum is the again of the pelvis and it’ll really feel like a shelf.)
The next three variations can all be finished on a block in a Supported Bridge Place (in addition to in Upward Dealing with Bow).
5. Half Splits
To date, we’ve centered on all of the methods to regulate your higher physique in Bridge. However the cool factor about this pose is you can additionally play with the leg positioning. The half cut up is an superior hamstring lengthener for the lifted leg. There’s additionally a steadiness component as you be taught to shift from 4 contact factors on the ground (the outer shoulders and each ft) to 3 (outer shoulders and one foot).
From Bridge Pose, middle your left leg and foot. Carry your proper thigh towards the ceiling. Begin along with your knee bent and lengthen via your decrease again. Straighten the leg as a lot as you comfortably can and attain your foot towards the ceiling. Keep right here for five breaths. Bend your knee and decrease your foot again to the ground. You may decrease your again to the mat and relaxation earlier than lifting your left leg.
6. One leg ahead at hip top
In contrast to the Half Splits variation of Bridge, the place carry one thigh into full hip flexion with the foot towards the ceiling, on this model, we hold the leg on the similar top as the alternative thigh with the foot reaching towards the entrance of the mat. This strengthens the quadricep muscle tissue on the lifted leg. It may be useful to have a block between the thighs for this variation to assist hold our pelvis stage.
From Bridge Pose, straighten your proper knee and attain your foot towards the entrance of the mat whereas holding your thighs on the similar top. Keep right here for five breaths. Contemplate decreasing your again to the mat and relaxation in between sides.
7. Determine 4
After I was fixated on the chest-opening facet of all my backbends, I ignored the truth that Bridge can be an awesome hip opener. Lifting into the pose stretches the hip flexors alongside the entrance of the thighs. You may add one other dimension of hip-opening by incorporating an internal thigh launch that mimics the stretch felt in Pigeon Pose. That is additionally an excellent variation to entry one’s indirect muscle tissue because it requires effort and consciousness to maintain the pelvis stage fairly than let it sink within the route of your bent leg.
From Bridge Pose, deliver one leg right into a determine 4 form by crossing your ankle over the alternative thigh. Keep right here for five breaths earlier than decreasing your leg. If you happen to want, decrease your again to the mat and relaxation earlier than switching sides.
About our contributor
Sarah Ezrin is an writer, world-renowned yoga educator, standard Instagram influencer, and mama primarily based within the San Francisco Bay Space. Her willingness to be unabashedly sincere and weak alongside along with her innate knowledge make her writing, yoga courses, and social media nice sources of therapeutic and internal peace for many individuals. Sarah is altering the world, educating self-love one individual at a time. She can be the writer of The Yoga of Parenting. You may comply with her on Instagram at @sarahezrinyoga and TikTok at @sarahezrin.