Working the yoga exercise Block Between the Thighs to Bridge covers a lot of territory. Attempting to engage the inner thighs; avoiding gripping the butt; keeping the outer thighs out of the picture; moving to bridge without tucking the pelvis; engaging the gluteus maximus and hamstrings correctly. Is that enough?
This is one of the foundation poses that I work with. In my walking program everyone starts with the Core Four—a psoas release and three strengthening poses to support the almighty psoas.
Pelvis tucking and butt gripping are two of main patterns that I hope to help people change and they are part in parcel of each other. Our bodies follow conditioned patterns that have been ingrained since we first began moving. So many factors lead up to how we move as adults—imitation, injury, training; and even illness can play a part.
In my walking program and yoga classes I hope to point out the patterns in people that might hold them back and offer them an opportunity to change. You can’t change without awareness, and awareness tends to come through action. But you have to start somewhere.
Watch this video that I made with fellow yoga teacher Killian O’Brien, and then do the yoga exercise bridge pose, that so many people done many times without thinking much about it, and see if you reflexively tuck under to make your way up.
Yoga Exercise: Block Between the Thighs To Bridge
- Lay on your back with the knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Place a block between your inner thighs.
- Engaging the inner thigh muscles against the block try to isolate them and use the quadriceps, and outer thighs, as little as possible—you might want to work on this alone for a while before moving on to the second stage of bridge.
- Pay close attention to your gluteal muscles and don’t overwork them.
- To feel the function of the gluteus maximus and hamstrings, isometrically draw the heels towards your hips (they won’t move) and you should feel those muscle move towards your heels—the opposite of what you will do when tucking and gripping.
- If and when you do lift up to bridge, make sure you are lifting the hips up with a neutral spine and not by tucking under.
- Ideally you feel your inner thighs and deep lower belly (transverse abdominis) working.
- Hold for a count of 10 breaths. Try to hold longer as you feel stronger. Hold for less if you need to. See if you can build up staying for three minutes.
This classic yoga exercise can be a great teaching tool if you allow for it.