Restorative Yoga-Bridge Pose
This is an excellent pose to release stretch the iliopsoas (hip flexors), quadriceps (fronts of thighs), as well as open spine and chest. Bridge pose helps to build power, endurance and stamina. In this pose, both groundedness and expansion are felt that with regular practice leads to a sattvic (balanced) state of being.
Block, Rolled Blankets, Strap
1) Lie on your back with your arms at your side. Use a strap around the mid thighs to keep the legs parallel without effort once in position.
2) Bend your knees and place the feet flat on the ground as close to the buttocks as possible. Allow the feet to be slightly pigeon-toed.
2) Take a deep breath in and on the exhalation push the feet into the ground, flatten the low back against the ground, and slowly curl the spine upward from the tailbone and one vertebrae at a time peel your spine upward off the ground until only the upper torso remains in contact with the mat.
3) Place the block (or bolster) under your sacrum. Try the block on its middle setting first and then highest setting as tolerated.
4) After the block is positioned, carefully roll your shoulders underneath you to open up the chest. Interlace the fingers, extending the arms towards the heels, keeping the arms and hands on the floor. If this gets in the way of the block keep the arms rolled under but do not interlace the fingers.
5) The chest should open allowing the sternum to lift towards the chin.
6) Draw deep breaths into the belly and observe the sensations building in the body. The feet pressing into the earth create a grounding feeling as the chest expanding and spine extending arouse a reflective quality of peace.
7) Maintain this position for 2 minutes before releasing the shoulders, removing the block, and gently descending onto the mat.
* For more support under the middle/upper back place a bolster perpendicular to the mat underneath the middle back. Position the block on its highest position under the sacrum.
Once in the pose inhale as you ground your feet into the earth and on the exhale imagine the chest expanding skyward.
As with all yoga poses listen to your body and steadily move towards the final posture without forcing into an external mold. Avoid this pose if you have neck injury.