Try the Supported Bridge Pose for a Restorative Backbend

Supported Bridge Pose with a Block
Ann Pizer

A supportive block under your sacrum in bridge pose turns this yoga backbend into a restorative pose. Supported bridge pose is appropriate for beginners. The benefits are that it allows the spine to experience extension while being gently supported. It may  help relieve back pain,

  • Type of poseRestorative, backbend
  • Equipment: Have a yoga block handy. A yoga block can be turned to stand at three different heights, so you can choose the height that is the most comfortable. While you can hack a yoga block in many cases, with supported bridge make sure you have something really solid since your weight is going to be resting on it.

Instructions for Supported Bridge Pose

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Extend your arms on the floor with your finger reaching toward your heels, You should be able to just barely touch the backs of your heels with your fingertips.
  3. Your feet should be parallel. Maintain that position throughout the duration of the pose.
  4. Press down into the soles of your feet to lift your hips off the floor.
  5. Slide your yoga block under your back directly under your sacrum. Let your sacrum rest securely on the block. Your arms can stay outstretched on the floor next to your body.
  6. This should be a comfortable position. You may want to stay here several minutes as your body settles into the stretch and gets the benefits of a passive backbend. If the pose causes your back to hurt, remove the block and come down.
  7. To come out, press down into your feet and lift your hips again. Slide the block out from under your sacrum and gently lower your back to the floor.

Beginners' Tips

A standard yoga block can be set up at three different heights, depending on the side that is on the floor. When you first try this pose, it's a good idea to start with the block on the lowest height, since this is its most stable and gentle position.

If the lowest height feels comfortable and you want a deeper stretch, you can try turning it to the next level. The highest height will give you the deepest backbend but is also the least stable, so go carefully. Since this is a restorative pose, choose the level that gives you the most ease. If you feel any pain, come out.

Advanced Tips

If you feel very stable, try lifting one leg off the floor while keeping the block in place under your sacrum. Straighten your lifted leg up to the ceiling or try bending it and placing your ankle on the thigh of the opposite leg (the one still on the floor) for a hip opener. Keep the foot of the raised leg flexed in either position. After several breaths, return that foot to the floor and try the other side.

You may also lift both legs at the same time, which is supported version of shoulderstand.

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