Updated: Jan 16
Are you wondering how to do the bridge pose in yoga? Or maybe you want to learn how you can build a foundation with other postures to help improve your technique?
In this blog we’ll explore five yoga poses that can help activate and engage the muscles you need to do the bridge pose correctly.
Want to jump straight into a guided practice? Practice along with my free YouTube video of 5 yoga poses to improve your bridge pose.
5 Poses to Learn How to Get Into the Bridge Pose
The cues and alignment tips shared in the below five yoga poses are particularly helpful to focus on when you’re working on your form in the bridge pose.
Make sure you try these out and practice them before you do the bridge pose to get the most benefits!
(1) Leg Raises | Uttanpadasana
Leg raises are a great warm up for activating the core muscles that you’ll need to engage in the bridge pose. Since the bridge pose is a backbend we can often focus so much on opening the front of our body that we forget the need to activate your abdomen. Firming the belly will help protect the lower back during backbends.
By doing a series of 10 – 20 single or double leg raises you can focus your attention specifically on controlling the movement of the legs via the strength in your belly.
Do your best to ground your lower back into your mat throughout. And if you notice any tension in your lower back try practicing for a while only the single leg raises and not lowering your legs so low to the ground.
Once you get familiar with the movement see if you can link the lifting of the legs with an inhale and lowering of the legs with an exhale.
(2) Seated Side Bend Stretch | Parsva Sukhasana
The sides of your body want to be long and engaged during the bridge pose. This seated side bend stretch will help create space and strength in the sides of your torso.
You can start by flowing from side to side with each breath to create heat in the body and a steady rhythm with your breath.
Try to keep your right hip grounded as you reach your right arm to the left to allow the torso to stay as long as possible. And then maintain that heaviness in your left hip when you reach your left arm to the right.
After a few rounds of moving dynamically from side to side take some time to explore pausing on one side. Seeing if you can spin your chest open to the ceiling and allow your shoulders to open.
(3) Seated Chest Opener | Sukhasana Chest Opener Variation
This seated chest opener allows you work on lifting your chest forward and up while opening the front of your shoulders—exactly the same shape and actions you’ll need for the bridge pose. You can also focus here on keeping the belly firm and legs heavy.
See if you can press the palms of your hands into the ground and at the same time reach your heart and chest up.
All the while keeping some attention on your breathing and staying for around five slow and steady breaths.
(4) Locust Pose | Salabhasana
The locust pose is a foundational backbend that works on strengthening your lower back and creating space in the front of your body. It’s a great posture to work on before the bridge pose since it focuses on stabilizing and strengthening the body so that you have the right actions and techniques for deeper backbends.
Once you’re lying on your belly you can start to lengthen your legs away from your hips and ground through your feet. See if you can press your feet down to your mat and allow your knees to lift up so that your legs are really active.
Now maintain the strength in your abdomen as you lengthen your head and upper body forward and at the same time lift up through your chest.
To help create even more space and prepare for bridge pose you can experiment with interlacing your fingers behind your back and actively reaching your arms up and back.
See if you can lift to a point where you can still keep a flowing and regular breath. Either coming in and out of the pose with each breath or pausing in the lifted version for several breaths.
(5) Bridge Pose | Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
After preparing through these four other yoga postures its time to work on the bridge pose itself. Set yourself up by lying on your back, feet hip distance apart and arms alongside your body. Before you come up into the posture you can already set up the foundations.
Allow your belly to firm, activate through your legs and feet as you slowly lift your hips up. Keep the back of your shoulders grounding as you lift your lower, mid and upper back from the ground.
If it feels comfortable you could interlace the fingers behind the back and walk the shoulder blades a little closer together. Keep some focus on your breathing as you lift your chest towards your chin and legs towards your feet.
Like in the locust pose you could start coming in and out of the pose a few times and build up towards holding your bridge pose for around five breaths.
Tips for practicing bridge pose for beginners
To help work on your technique it can be helpful to repeat your bridge pose for around 3 – 5 times during your practice. You could try each time bringing awareness to different alignment points and actions if it feels overwhelming to think of them all at once.
One of the real benefits of the bridge pose is that it works on both strength and flexibility. There’s certainly activation of your muscles required in your hamstrings, quadriceps, inner thighs and abdomen. While also openness and flexibility being worked on in the front of your chest, shoulders and back.
With so much happening it’s no wonder really that finding this balance between activating and softening requires lots of practice.
Despite the majority of this blog focusing on the physical actions required to do the bridge pose in yoga don’t forget about the more subtle elements of how the pose feels in your body, what’s happening with your breath and where the focus of your mind is during practicing.
These elements are equally as important when you’re exploring how you can learn more about your body, breath and state of mind during your yoga practice.
You can find here more tips for practicing yoga, breathing and meditation at home.
Good luck and happy practicing!
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