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If your knees splay open, compressing your low back …
Try hugging a block between your inner thighs. Keeping your feet parallel and hip-distance apart, place a block at its most narrow width between your inner thighs. Lightly squeeze the block as you lift into Bridge Pose. This keeps your knees in line and buttocks softer; you might notice it feels better in your low back, too.
If your shoulders are tight …
Try holding a strap between your hands. Once you’ve lifted your hips off the floor, instead of clasping your hands underneath your torso, use a strap to take your shoulder blades deeper onto your upper back. (Start by holding each end of the strap about shoulder-width, and then gradually move your hands closer together.) Tug on the strap with both hands as you walk the outer edges of your arms underneath you, lifting your chest higher and broadening your collarbones.
See also Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose
If the back of your neck flattens, or if you have a neck injury …
Try placing a rolled-up hand towel under your neck. You don’t want the roll to be too thick, just large enough to support the curve of your neck. This will lift your chin away from your sternum and keep your neck and spine safe.
Tip: Listen to Your Heart
It’s a natural tendency to thrust your pelvis up to maximum height in Bridge Pose (especially if you tend to be a go-getter). However, all of that drive through the hips actually takes away from the lift of the chest. Yoga is an invitation to open your heart. If you find yourself really pushing your hips up, let your butt relax back down toward the floor and lift your sternum. While it might not feel as rewarding, sometimes backing off from trying to “achieve” (so to speak) is exactly what your heart needs to stay present with what is—the ultimate goal of yoga.
See also How to Backbend Better
About Our Pro
Teacher and model Meagan McCrary is a yoga teacher in Los Angeles and author of Pick Your Yoga Practice: Exploring and Understanding Different Styles of Yoga. To learn more, go to meaganmccrary.com.