November 2020 Pose of the Month

Week 1 – Meeting the Posture

Bridge Pose, or the sanskrit – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

As we continue our yoga journey together this month we will focus on bridge pose…. as a backbend this pose helps open the spine and chest, it also is great to build strength in the lower body. Regular practice helps reduce stress…as we move through the month remember to listen to your body, you can practice a supported version of this on days you feel you need something different, switching things up also keeps things interesting and varies how you are using your body.

Take a day 1 photo so you can get a good look at where your body really is in this pose, we need that birds eye view to really see where we are in space and where we need to work on things to improve our alignment in the posture, my day one photo is above…. Commit to practicing this pose in some variation each day for the entire month, grab another photo maybe in the middle and again at the end to compare, you can share your photos or not, entirely up to you! You can also keep a journal with your practice and take a moment after each time you hit the mat to jot down what comes up, was today little easier, or maybe a little more challenging, did you not want to spend time today but you did it anyway, could be as simple as just a few words.

My goal here is less about getting better at the pose and more about the journey of the pose throughout the 30 days. No doubt we will improve a posture by practicing everyday, but the practice of yoga is less about the shapes we make in the body and more about what comes up during those shapes. I encourage you to take this time to connect to your body, your mind and your practice in a deeper or at least different way. I am looking forward to taking this journey along with you.

Here is today’s mini practice introducing this month’s challenge….don’t forget to join the Facebook Group if you want to catch these classes live!

Week 2 – Pitfalls and Modifications

As much benefit as we can gain from our yoga practice, we have just as much chance to injure ourselves if we are not being mindful of the body in the poses. We can push our flexibility to improve and gain strength in more difficult poses, but we do all have some structural limitations and our bodies are not built to move in some ways. This is why our teachers give so many alignment cues for poses to help us with a few things: finding our body in space; learning to manipulate the body safely while maintaining alignment; and helping us to adapt the pose for our body and our practice level in that moment. Very often in class I speak about knowing the direction we are headed even if we arent there yet, the directions let us guide our body safely towards the way we want to go while allowing for the time needed to travel there.

Honoring our bodies is the number one most important thing to remember when you show up to the mat. Our ego getting the best of us is often what leads to injury, we see another student or the teacher taking a pose further than we should and we want to do it to. I think we all go through this in yoga, becoming aware of this ego takeover can allow you to start to drop the ego and focus on your own practice. For a long time I refused props in class not wanting to be the fat girl in class and need help, wanting to show everyone that I can do it! Man am I glad I realized that props are amazing and that no one else cares what I am doing, if anything they are thinking similar thoughts…look at that person I wish I was like them…chasing that ego around the room totally focused on themselves just like I was. (This is true in life off the mat too btw!)

It is easy to find ourselves stuck in a rut of bad habits in our practice if we never take the time to really learn the foundations of the poses, if we just look at the shapes people are making with their bodies we miss out on what the body is actually supposed to be doing. When we have these foundations and alignment cues we can make the pose work for us rather than trying to force our body into a shape we think it should be in, this is often how we end up injured or maybe just not enjoying the practice because we think we can’t do it. This is one of the great benefits of deep diving into a new pose like this each month.

Some common misalignments in bridge pose that you want to watch out for are: knees splaying out to the sides – to help fix this we talked in class about placing a block, or anything similar, between the knees – by squeezing the block we keep not only the knees from splaying out but the entire leg in proper alignment. Speaking of the legs, let’s be sure to keep an eye on the feet as well…feet should be in line toes pointing forward, heels straight back. So to sum it up – legs hip distance apart, knees in line over ankles, thighs parallel to the ground, and feet straight ahead. As for the upper body by tucking the shoulders under you, and propping yourself on the sides of your arms you create space for the chest to lift, clasp the hands together and press the pinky edge into the mat.

Check out this weeks mini practice to see some of these variations in action…..

Week 3 – Why Should I?

So… we know that yoga is good for us, and we know that we usually feel better after spending some time on the mat, but do you know why? If we are going to spend time every month practicing a posture let’s take a minute and start to get to know it a little better…..

Some of the benefits specific to bridge pose are:

  • Strengthens the legs, glutes and upper back – these are some pretty important areas of the body so building strength here helps us both on and off the mat!
  • Stretches the chest and spine – we spend so much of our time sitting and/or hunched over computers and phones, whether we know it or not this is causing damage to our bodies, hunching and rounding in the shoulders and upper back and compression of the spine, anything that helps to counter that is a win!
  • Calms the mind – I mean really enough said! Who doesn’t need more of this in their life!
  • Improves digestion – health starts from the inside out and improved digestion is to key to a healthy body and mind, this pose helps keep digestion working at its peak.

Check out our week 3 mini practice below to continue your month long journey with this posture!

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