There are a lot of yoga poses that seem intimidating to beginners, and for good reason. (There’s a reason yoga is referred to as a practice!). Bridge Pose, however, shouldn’t be one of them. This simple backbend, usually one of the first moves a newbie learns, is a classic that will help you nail more complicated poses in the future.
Bridge Pose is somehow energizing and restorative at the same time. Here’s everything you need to know about this powerful heart opener.
Bridge Pose 101
Bridge Pose might be a basic move, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. It stretches your chest and hip flexors while also strengthening muscles in your back and legs. This easy move offers plenty of benefits, such as easing back pain and restoring posture.
Bridge Pose is a beginner’s backbend that’s easy to learn and is popular to incorporate into practice. The Sanskrit name for Bridge Pose is Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. How’d it get its name? Your body will mimic the shape of a bridge in this position.
This is a great pose for anyone who is looking to stretch and strengthen at the same time. It works double-duty. The post stretches out your back and abdominal muscles while also opening up your chest and strengthening muscles in your lower body. Once you let go of the pose, you should feel rejuvenated and relaxed.
First things first: Start with a light warm-up. Bridge Pose might be an easy one, but you shouldn’t start stretching if your muscles aren’t ready. Then, follow these steps.
- Lie on your back in the center of your mat.
- Bend your knees so that your legs and feet are parallel and hip-width apart. Keep your arms at your sides with your palms flat to the floor.
- Move your feet closer to your buttocks. Press down firmly on your feet and palms, and exhale as you lift your hips toward the sky. (Be sure to lift from your pubic bone and not your navel.)
- Lift your hips until your body makes a straight line from chest to knees.
- Once you feel stable, roll your shoulders so that they’re underneath your body. Clasp your hands together on the floor under your back and keep your arms as straight as possible. Be sure your legs and feet stay parallel and lift your chin slightly.
- Hold the post for 30 to 60 seconds, maintaining your breathing. When you’re ready to release, exhale and slowly roll the spine down beginning from the neck and ending at the hips.
- Repeat if needed.
Once you’ve gotten the basic move down, you can work on some adjustments that will make you look like a yoga superstar.
- Press into your feet as much as possible to lift your hips higher and steady yourself.
- Keep your feet parallel to the outer edges of the mat the whole time instead of allowing them to turn out. When your hips are lifted, you can do this by gently squeezing your knees toward each other.
- Avoid clenching your buttocks and pushing your hips too high. That can actually hurt your lower back. Gently squeeze your knees toward each other and be sure to lengthen your tailbone as you relax your glutes.
- Maintain steady breaths and breathe into the lower belly to maintain the posture for a longer period of time. Take long, deep breathes as you enter, hold, and exit the pose.
- Keep your head in one spot and don’t turn your neck to the left or the right. This can hurt your neck and also make you lose your balance.
Bridge Pose feels good and it’s good for you. Here are some of the benefits you can expect to experience if you do it regularly.
1. Strengthens abdominal muscles
Bridge Pose is a great way to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles. One study, which looked at the effects of doing Bridge Pose on a regular basis, found that doing the pose often improves deep abdominal muscle thickness.
How? The research shows that when doing this pose, your abdominal muscles are working constantly. This means it’s a good exercise for strengthening ab muscles, especially for patients with lumbar pain.
2. Relieves back pain
This yoga pose stretches out your back muscles, which might be able to alleviate back pain. One study looked at whether practicing Bridge Pose regularly could benefit women who wear high heels. The research found that doing Bridge Pose helped prevent back pain the women might have experienced from their fancy footwear.
3. Encourages relaxation
Yoga in itself has been proven, time and time again, to relieve stress and help people relax. One 2011 study, for example, looked at the therapeutic effects of yoga, and found that it can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It can even promote recovery from addiction. On top of that, the study found that regularly practicing yoga enhances flexibility and muscular strength, reduces chronic pain, improves sleep, and enhances one’s overall quality of life.
Research has also found that Bridge Pose in particular can help enhance relaxation. According to the International Journal of Trend in Scientific Research and Development (IJTSRD), Bridge Pose is considered a mild inversion since it places your heart higher than your head. That means it offers the benefits of an inversion, such as relief from anxiety, stress, mild depression, insomnia, and fatigue as it calms the mind and reduces blood pressure.
There are plenty of benefits to doing a basic Bridge Pose, but you can also switch things up depending on your skill level.
Yes, it’s possible to make Bridge Pose even more simple. Supported Bridge Pose uses a yoga block to allow your spine to extend while it’s still supported. The pose helps relieve back pain and requires less lower body strength, and the block makes it more of a restorative pose.
Here’s how to do it:
- Turn your yoga block to the height you find most comfortable.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, legs and feet parallel.
- Extend your arms on the floor with your palms pressed into the floor.
- Press down into the soles of your feet to lift your hips off the floor.
- Slide your yoga block directly under your pelvis, then let it rest on the block. Keep your arms extended to your sides.
- Hold position for 30 to 60 seconds. You should feel comfortable and supported the entire time. Maintain breathing throughout.
- To exit the position, press down into your feet and lift your hips slightly so that you can slide the block out from under you. Slowly lower your back to the floor one vertebrae at a time.
Turn Bridge Pose into even more of a strength move by using a yoga block between your knees. This helps strengthen and work your inner thigh muscles. Don’t attempt this until you feel comfortable with a standard Bridge Pose. You’ll need a yoga block or comparable prop for this modification.
Here’s how to do it:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, keeping your legs and feet parallel.
- Extend your arms to your sides, pressing your palms flat into the floor.
- Keeping your feet parallel and hip-distance apart, place the yoga block at its most narrow width between your knees or inner thighs.
- Lightly squeeze the block between your legs as you press your feet firmly into the floor and lift your hips toward the ceiling.
- Clasp your hands together and move them so that they are underneath your back.
- Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds, maintaining your breathing and lightly squeezing the block the entire time.
- To exit the pose, slowly lower your hips to the ground by lowering your spine, vertebrae by vertebrae, until you’re on the floor.
- Remove the block from between your legs and relax.
Bridge Pose might be a beginner pose, but you should still exercise caution, especially if you’re not very familiar with yoga. It’s always a good idea to learn new poses and exercises like this one when working with a certified personal trainer. They can show you exactly how to do the move and correct any mistakes. If you have any preexisting health conditions, consult your physician before doing the pose.
Some people should avoid Bridge Pose completely. Don’t do it if any of these situations apply to you.
- You have recently undergone brain, back, neck, shoulder, or spinal surgery.
- You have a slipped disc or other severe back injury.
- You have high blood pressure.
- You deal with a lot of neck pain.
- You have extremely weak knees or have recently undergone knee replacement surgery.
Note: People who are pregnant may be able to do Bridge Pose with modifications but should def check with their doctor before attempting it.
Bridge Pose is a beginner’s backbend that can be restorative while strengthening muscles in your abdomen, legs, and glutes.
This pose can help relieve back pain, strengthen abdominal muscles, and promote an overall sense of relaxation. But if you have severe back or neck pain, have recently undergone certain surgeries, have high blood pressure, or are pregnant, you should prob skip this one.