Bridge Pose is considered a back bend(heart opener) and a “soft” inversion. Back bends are a great way to counteract the rounding of our shoulders that tends to happen daily when we are sitting at a desk on the computer, using any mobile device, or driving a car. Inversions are important because they help drain the fluid from our legs and send fresh blood to that area while reducing fatigue. Many people habitually carry tension in the shoulders and may suffer from tension headaches from doing so. This pose will help open up that area and encourage breathing as we tend to hold it when we are carrying tension. Restorative Bridge Pose will help add energy to a tired or lethargic body. You will feel a gentle stretch in your upper chest and shoulder area.
Always advise your doctor before beginning any yoga practice. Cautions for this pose include spondylolisthesis, spondylolysis, respiratory or sinus infection, indigestion, menstration, any retinal problems, or neck issues. Avoid this pose if you are more than 3 months pregnant.
In setting up this pose, you will want to find similar size bolsters, pillows, or blankets. Play around with different heights to determine what suits you. Roll up a blanket to place under your neck to avoid any strain or discomfort. Once you have determined the right height, place 2 bolsters or 2 stacks of blankets vertical on your mat end to end. Sit on top and straddle the bolster while moving towards the end. Use your arms to help you lower your upper chest and head on to your mat. If you feel any pain in your lower back, you will want to lower the height of your stack as it may be too aggressive. Place a rolled up blanket under your neck for support. You will want to avoid your chin and neck from touching. Place your arms out to the sides in a “T” or closer to your body. An eye pillow will help reduce any stimulation you may have.
Options include adding a sandbag to your shins in order to keep them placed on the bolsters or a belt fastened around your thighs. Supine poses tended to cool the body down, so you may want to place a blanket over you to keep your body at a comfortable temperature.
Once you are set up in the pose, begin your rhythmic breathing through your nose, and perform a body scan to release any tension you are holding on to. You are welcome to stay in this pose as long as you are comfortable. Average time may be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.
When coming out of this pose, do so slowly and with intention. Remove the eye pillow, belt, or sandbag. Bend your knees, place the soles of your feet on the ground, and start to push your body back off the bolsters. Once your pelvis is off the bolster, gently roll to one side and spend a moment here noticing the effects of the pose. When you are ready, press your top hand into the mat and rise to a seated position.
Watch Katie demonstrate how to set up this pose: