Before Holy Yoga, I did a yoga DVD program at home for five years. The instructor did bridge posture at the end of each session. But he only had us hold it for seconds, a half breath essentially.
When I began learning and teaching bridge, I realize it helps strengthen deeper glut muscles and the core when it’s held for several breaths. In fact, it should be held for 30-60 seconds and can be repeated during your practice.
Here’s how I coach a class through bridge with a step-by-step.
First, from a supine position the feet are hip distance apart (the bony hip) and close to the sitting bones. the fingers pointed toward the toes with the palms down. Prepare your body by lifting your torso and drawing your upper body weight onto the shoulder blades.
When you are ready and on an inhale, lift the hips as you push against to soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. Once your hips are lifted as high as feels comfortable for you, release the glut muscles. This allows the smaller muscles of the gluts to do the work. Inwardly rotate your thighs. If you’d like, you can clasp the hands together beneath the tailbone and press the pinkie fingers into the mat. This helps keep the weight on the shoulder blades. Take several deep, long cleansing breaths here. If you have trouble keeping the pelvis up off the mat, you can use a block or bolster to assist in the posture.
Release the posture on an exhale, lowering slowly back to your mat. The easiest counter pose from this position is to draw the knees into the chest and very slowly rock back and forth on the low spine.
Repeat as many times as you like. You can further work your core by lifting alternate legs straight up. You can also shift your weight into the balls of the feet, lifting the heels.
I like to encourage my classes to also tuck their chin, if their neck will permit it, and watch their breath rise and fall in their chest and/or belly. It’s very calming and grounding to follow the rhythm of the breath in a posture that keeps your mind active as you work to turn on some muscles while turning “off” others.
According to Yoga Journal, a few benefits of bridge posture are:
- Stretches the chest, neck, and spine
- Calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression
- Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid
- Rejuvenates tired legs
- Improves digestion
- Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
- Relieves menstrual discomfort when done supported
- Reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia
- Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sinusitis