Bridg

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(setu bhandasana)

Bridge Pose is a basic back bend that opens your chest and strengthens your back. This pose also increases the flexibility of your spine and stretches your neck, abdomen and thighs. As with all back bends, this pose can help energize your body, which makes the pose a good warm-up pose.

While performing Bridge Pose, make sure your weight is resting equally on your shoulders and feet. You should also relax your shoulders away from your ears, but be careful not to overstretch your neck. As you hold the pose, focus on breathing and lengthening your spine as you arch your body like a bridge.

If you want to deepen the pose, you can move your shoulder blades toward each other. Then interlace your fingers and gently stretch your arms and hands toward your feet.

You should be careful performing Bridge Pose if you have neck, shoulder, back or knee problems. Avoid the pose completely if you have a serious knee injury, high blood pressure or heart disease.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart with your heels directly under your knees.

Place your arms on the floor along the sides of your body, with your palms facing down.

Inhale as you press your feet into the floor and lift your pelvis off the floor as high as is comfortable for you.

If you feel any discomfort in your neck or shoulders, you should come out of the pose.

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip width apart with your heels directly under your knees.

• Make sure your knees and toes are pointing forward.

Place your arms on the floor along the sides of your body, with your palms facing down.

Exhale as you lengthen your spine and gently press your lower back into the floor.

Inhale as you press your feet into the floor and lift your pelvis off the floor as high as is comfortable for you.

Your weight should be supported equally by your shoulders and feet.

If you feel any discomfort in your neck or shoulders, you should come out of the pose.

I find it difficult to keep my pelvis lifted in Bridge Pose. What can I do?

If you find it difficult to keep your pelvis lifted in this pose, you can position a prop, such as a bolster, under your lower back and rest the back of your pelvis on the prop. This modification is especially helpful if you cannot lift your pelvis up very high in this pose. Resting the back of your pelvis on a prop will also allow you to hold the pose for a longer period of time.

Is there anything else I can do to hold Bridge Pose longer?

To stay in Bridge Pose longer, you can use your hands to support your pelvis. Instead of placing your arms along the sides of your body, bend your elbows and place your hands on your lower back, keeping your upper arms on the floor. You may only be able to perform this modification if you are very flexible. If you have wrist or arm problems, you should avoid this modification.

MODIFICATION

Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

To come out of the pose, exhale as you roll your spine down to the floor one vertebra at a time. Your hips should touch the floor last.

After performing Bridge Pose, you should perform Little Boat Pose to release your lower back. For information on Little Boat Pose, see page 58.

You can intensify the stretch in your chest and add a gentle stretch to your arms and shoulders in Bridge Pose.

Perform Bridge Pose, except move your shoulder blades toward each other. Keeping your arms on the floor, interlace your fingers and gently stretch your arms and hands toward your feet.

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