If you're looking for a gentler inversion alternative than Wheel Pose, Bridge (Sanskrit name: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) should be your go-to. While my favorite — and least favorite! — poses are constantly evolving, I have always been partial to this beautiful heart-opening pose. The reason? Although it's very active and energizing, there's also something relaxing and calming about Bridge. Here are a few tips on how to get the most out of this fantastic pose and take your Bridge to the next level.
- Set up strong: When you're setting up the pose, lay a strong foundation. Lie supine (lying down with face upward) on the floor. Take a few deep breaths to get grounded and relaxed. Bend your knees, plant your feet flat on the floor, and make sure the knees are hips-distance apart.
- Align it right: As you push your pelvis up and forward, your knees should be directly over your heels. If you want to make sure you have the right distance between your shoulders and your feet, here's a great rule of thumb: when you reach for your heels, your fingertips should just graze the back of your feet. Keep your arms extended on either side of your body with palms facing down. If you want to take it up a notch, clasp your hands under your pelvis, and as you come into the full expression of the pose, roll your shoulders in toward one another.
- Stop the squeeze: Release your butt! Unlike some Pilates or exercise variations of a bridge, there should be no serious tension or strain in your tush when you're lifting up your hips toward the ceiling. With that said, be sure to keep your thighs strong and engaged in order to get those hips even higher.
- Face forward: Make sure you don't look around when you're in bridge. Your chin should be slightly lifted away from your sternum for proper alignment while keeping your gaze forward to slightly up toward the ceiling. I know it can be tempting, but if you check out your neighbors on either side, you could run the risk of hurting your neck.
- Come down clean: When you're coming out of bridge pose, release your clasped hands, and slowly bring your body back to the Earth. Also, be sure keep your head facing forward until you're all the way down. After Bridge, I love to bring my knees in toward my chest for a squeeze, and then roll my knees slowly from side to side for a minimassage. It's the perfect counterpose to give your lower back some love.