There are plenty of reasons to bend into a bridge pose at some point during your yoga flow. Aside from the general benefits of getting upside down every once in a while (working your core and redirecting blood flow, to name a few), the flexibility-improving favorite can also strengthen your pelvic muscles (hello, satisfying sex life). Plus, it opens your heart and hips, and will leave you feeling about as energized as a frothy oat milk latte. But in order to reap the full roster of good-for-you stuff—and avoid hurting yourself—it’s important to know how to do bridge pose the right way.
“Inversions put our heart above our head, and this one is especially precarious because your head is literally dangling above the ground,” explains Sarrah Strimel, creator of the Damn Good Yoga class at Project By Equinox in New York City, about why it’s important to flip your practice on its head every once in a while.
For the full 411 on nailing a bridge pose, Well+Good tapped Obé fitness instructor and yoga pro Francesca Valarezzo to demonstrate how to properly master the back-bend, even as a beginner. A few common mistakes worth being aware of: Don’t take your feet wider than hips-width apart, try not to collapse your sacrum and neck, and don’t let your knees flay out wide, but rather hold them straight up above your ankles.
To do the pose correctly, start by aligning your feet with your sitting bones with your toes turned slightly inward. Lift your hips upward, and shimmy up onto the tips of your shoulders. Grab the sides of the mat, and keep rolling your shoulders inward until you feel the weight. If you’ve got a block, place it between your inner thighs and *squeeze* to help perfect the form. For a more intense version of the pose, interlace your hands under your back with your arms straight, press down into your shoulders and lift your thighs up even further. Then, be ready to really feel your muscles engage. Here’s a video of her testing out the pose the right way.
Once you’ve got this move mastered, you can move on to the bridge pose’s slightly more intense cousin—the oft-feared wheel pose. And for good measure, here’s exactly how to do a crow pose without going splat (which is what almost always happens to me when I try one).
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