We place a lot of demands on the muscles in the front of our body during our busy lives. Bridge pose allows us to stretch the very muscles we use day in and day out. Just as we use our hip flexors and chest muscles through the day, the back of our body – back, glutes, and hamstrings don’t always get the attention they need to help with posture. Eventually contrast between the overused quads and chest with the underused back and glutes can cause problems with our posture.
How to do the Challenge
To do bridge pose effectively and safely, alignment is key.
- Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor hip distance apart. Be sure feet are parallel to each other and not pointed to the side.
- Brace your arms on the floor next to your hips with arms flat on the floor. Relax your neck and shoulders and feel your neck and spine stretch long. Be sure NOT to move your neck once you are in the pose.
- Tuck your tailbone under and lift your hips to the ceiling. Continue that lifting action as you move your waist, rib cage and finally your chest up to the ceiling.
- Engage your glutes by pressing firming into the four corners of your feet. To open your chest more, press your arms and palms into the floor and squeeze your shoulder blades firmly toward each other.
- Take five deep breaths or about 30 seconds.
- Slowly release by bringing your upper back down then slowly each vertebrae until your sacrum, your tailbone, softly touches the ground.
If you have any neck pain or knee pain, do not do this exercise.
Want to deepen your yoga practice? Do this pose with one foot while bringing the other leg parallel to the ground. Hold for 5 seconds before slowly and carefully switching to the other leg. This is especially helpful if you have any hip concerns or to get an extra glute exercise.
The benefits of Bridge Pose
Bridge pose crosses between the fields of health and fitness field, doubling the benefits.
- In the fitness arena, Bridge is great at stretching the chest, psoas, and hip flexors. These muscles in particular get shortened through prolonged periods of sitting in addition to repetitive forward motions like running or biking.
- Outlined in this recent article, bridge is a key component in hip and core stability – http://www.acefitness.org/acefit/healthy-living-article/60/5131/core-strengthening-exercises-that-help-with/
- In the yoga community, bridge pose has deeper benefits on the mind and body. It has been shown to reduce anxiety and fatigue. It calms the brain and central nervous system. Bridge also improves digestion and alleviates stress. http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/bridge-pose/