By Seyi Ishola
Tweaking your alignment here and there goes a long way in your practice. Bridge pose is one of those poses that a lot of teachers like to throw in towards the end of the class when your body is already warm. It is a back bend and an inversion; less strenuous than a headstand or even a shoulder-stand but holds the benefits of an inversion. It opens up the chest, shoulders and stretches the thighs and back of the neck. It’s also the ‘gentler‘ alternative to the wheel pose. I say gentler because though it might look easy, there are a few alignment mistakes that I have seen and have made in my practice. If you’ve got really tight shoulders, chest and/or hip flexors, this may not be easy for you. Alignment is important in yoga; it’s so easy to do “cool” poses with the wrong alignment for so long and end up hurting yourself. Bridge pose could also be used as a restorative pose by placing a block directly under the sacrum for a less active feeling.
- Start off lying down facing upward. Take a couple of breaths here keeping the body in relaxed mode. Bend your knees, planting the feet flat on the floor and keeping the knees hip-distance apart. Place your hands down by your side.
- Press your feet and hands down into your mat keeping the core engaged to support the lower back, and slowly start to lift the hips up towards the ceiling. Try keeping the knees stacked directly over your heels. *Think about drawing the tailbone down towards the pubic bone and avoid squeezing the buttocks.
- If you’d like to take it a bit deeper into the shoulders, roll the shoulders back and underneath the body. Clasp your hands keeping them as straight as possible, reaching the knuckles towards the heels. This also helps to lift the hips just a little bit more. Again, avoid flexing the buttocks and squeezing the glutes.
- To come out of the post, start by unclasping the hands placing them back by the body and slowly releasing the body back onto the mat. Draw your knees in towards the body and give yourself a hug :)
- Looking around too much in bridge pose to avoid any stress on the neck. Keep the chin slightly lifted and gaze forward or slightly up.
- Shoulder misalignment. Roll onto the side of the arms to draw the shoulder blades together. This gives the chest more room to lift and open.
- Over separating the knees- keep them hip-distance part. Also try to keep them stacked over the ankles to evenly distribute the weight.
- Sinking buttocks. Use your core to lift to avoid any lower back issues.
Bridge pose a.k.a Setu Bandha Sarvangasana