29
December

This time of year we are “bridging” into the New Year, opening to our heart’s desires. In the Northern hemisphere, it is also a time of possible seasonal depression from lack of sunlight. I chose this pose with both in mind. Enjoy

Benefits:

  • Strengthens: Glutes, Hamstrings, Hip Adductors, Lower Back
  • Stretches:  Hip Flexors, Abs, Chest, Shoulders, Neck, Spine
  • Calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression
  • Rejuvenates tired legs
  • Improves digestion
  • Stimulates thyroid and thymus glands which regulate your metabolism and immune system, respectively
  • Reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, & insomnia
  • Beneficial for asthma
  • Energetically opens the heart center helping you to open up to the world

Alignment Cues:  Lie on your back, palms down on either side of the glutes.  Knees bent, soles of the feet to the floor. Fingers should just touch the heels or be close to it.  Keeping the top of the head pressing gently into the floor to protect the cervical spine, and the nose toward the ceiling, lift the hips.

Another arm position that gives more power to your lift uses bent elbows with palms facing in.

For a greater challenge: Externally rotate the shoulders as you walk them inward and interlace the fingers underneath your body.  Your body should be resting on the outside edges of the shoulders. Stack knees over ankles and slide shoulders gently away from ears. Keep your nose to the ceiling, the head centered and still. Engage inner thighs to keep knees stacked and over ankles. Toes in, heels out. This increases the lift providing even more safety for your cervical spine and more stimulation of the thyroid and thymus glands.

Or:  Turn your palms up to focus more on the core and on opening the chest. (Not Shown.)

Variation: One legged Bridge / Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana:  Exhale and lift right knee in toward chest. Inhale and extend the right leg to the sky, perpendicular to the floor. Release on an exhalation.  Repeat other side.

Add a prop:  If you have difficulty holding the pose, add a block or bolster underneath the sacrum to support you.

You can also add a prop between the thighs to engage inner thighs inward spiral and build inner thigh strength. This use of a block also is very grounding, activating your root chakra.

Contraindicated for those with neck injuries.

Spiritual aspects of bridge pose:  True to its name, bridge pose is a great reminder that yoga bridges the mind with the body with the spirit. As you open your heart to the world in bridge pose, you are also reminded that the heart chakra bridges the physical chakras below with the spiritual/energetic chakras above. Spiritual/energetics/physical—all connected. This pose is not only a heart opener, but also a back bend. Back bends are known to help alleviate depression. With an open heart, you shine your essence for all to see. Bridge pose reminds us that we have the capacity to beam our aura out. Your spirit is transformed through yoga just as your physical body is transformed. (See the HearthMath tip below in the “Meditation on the go” section for another way to beam out through your heart.)

Bridge the wisdom gained from past experience with an openness to learn something new.  Moments of effort accumulate, creating new paths for energy to flow.”  Setu Bandha Sarvangasana / Bridge Pose card from Yoga Path Cards by Susan Woldman.

Sources:  http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/472
Beth Shaw’s Yogafit®. The program for a more powerful, flexible, and defined physique, by Beth Shaw.

 

 

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