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How to Do Bridge Pose in Yoga


Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

Coming into yoga teacher training from my barre background, I was used to doing what looks like bridge pose as a way to tone the glutes. Instead of slowly lifting and holding, we would do reps up and down with our hips and squeeze at the top. (A very effective booty workout, by the way!)

From a yoga perspective, I now understand the alignment and energetics of bridge pose very differently. In yoga, it is a backbend, and the purpose is to lift through the chest more than pressing the hips up and squeezing the heck out of your glutes. In fact, we try to soften the glutes and use our quads more. And it's crazy how a few changes can make a posture feel completely different.

Here I'm going to break down how to do setu bandha sarvangasana in yoga and where you should feel the engagement in your body.

  • Start lying flat on your back with your legs out long and your hands relaxed down by your sides.
  • Bend your knees and walk your feet back so that your ankles are close to your fingertips.
  • Stack your ankles directly under your knees.
  • Spread your toes out wide and press firmly into your heels.
  • Exhale all of your air out of your lungs.
  • As you inhale, use your quads to lift your hips up
  • Keep pressing into your feet as much as you can.
  • If you feel your glutes clench, try to soften them and put the work back into your quads.
  • Press your stomach up so that you feel a stretch through your abs.
  • Press your chest up and focus on the intention of opening your heart.
  • Slide your shoulder blades together to make a little shelf.
  • You can keep your palms flat on the ground.
  • Alternatively, you can bend your elbows so that your fingertips point straight up to the ceiling like robot arms. Keep your elbows and triceps down on the ground. This can help support your back.
  • Breathe deeply and keep your gaze straight up to the ceiling. Do not turn your head to the side.
  • Try to relax your neck and your jaw as much as possible.
  • To release, take a big inhale and exhale slowly as you lower your hips back to your mat.
  • It may feel good to slowly 'windshield wiper' your knees side to side with your feet planted.

Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer