Variations of Bridge Pose

Bridge pose is one on my favorite asanas to use in the physical therapy clinic.  It is a powerful exercise to strengthen many muscle groups moving into spinal extension, a direction we all need to spend more time in to prevent low back pain.  Compared to “physical therapy bridge” performed by simply lifting the hips up, Bridge Pose requires segmental control of the abdominal muscles and spinal extensors in addition to working various arm and leg muscle groups.  See below for a full list of muscles strengthened from this posture.

Full Bridge Pose requires much flexibility of the chest and spine to perform safely.  Fortunately, there are two versions of bridge pose that provide you with the same benefits and allow to eventually work up to the full version.  Take your time with each step and be sure to breathe deeply with this asana.

STEP ONE: Preparation for Bridge Pose

 

  • Start with a rolled towel or foam roll on the floor
  • Lie on your back with the roll directly under the spine.  Bend your knees and rest your feet on the mat.  Be sure your knees and feet are in line with your hips.
  •  Actively press your arms down into the floor with your palms down.
  • Slowly roll your spine up from the bolster, beginning with your tailbone, lifting one vertebra at a time as you actively press your feet down into the floor.
  • Maintain the activity in the core, arms and legs as you hold the lift up to one minute.
  • When you are ready to come out of the pose, slowly and with control, roll down one vertebra at a time, making sure your tailbone is the last part to touch the floor.
  •  Note: laying on a towel or a roller makes it easier for you to lift up the pelvis.  Continue with this modification until you feel confident.

 STEP TWO: Half Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat.  Be sure your knees and feet are in line with your hips.  Actively press your arms down into the floor with your palms down.
  • Slowly roll your spine up from the floor, beginning with your tailbone, lifting one vertebra at a time as you actively press your feet and arms down into the floor.
  • Maintain the activity in the core, arms and legs as you hold the lift up to one minute.
  • When you are ready to come out of the pose, slowly and with control, roll down one vertebra at a time, making sure your tailbone is the last part to touch the floor.    Continue with this version until your mid-back can lift up off the floor.

 STEP THREE: Bridge

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat.  Be sure your knees and feet are in line with your hips.  Actively press your arms down into the floor with your palms down.
  • Slowly roll your spine up from the floor, beginning with your tailbone, lifting one vertebra at a time as you actively press your feet and arms down into the floor.
  • Once you have achieved maximum lift, walk the shoulder blades down towards your tailbone.  Clasp your hands together and press your arms down to the floor.
  • Maintain the activity in the core, arms and legs as you hold the lift up to one minute.
  • When you are ready to come out of the pose unclasp the hand and slowly, roll down one vertebra at a time, making sure your tailbone is the last part to touch the floor.

 Bridge Pose Benefits:

  • Strengthens the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, latissimus dorsi, transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, multifiti, serratus anterior, lower trapezius
  • Stretches the thoracic and lumbar spine, anterior shoulder capsule, intercostals, pectoralis major and minor and iliopsoas
  • Increases lung capacity
  • Relieves depression and anxiety
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3 Comments (+add yours?)

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