Yoga for Posture – 2 – Bridge

In an ongoing attempt to increase the specific posture, pain and mobility content around these parts, here is the second in a continuing series on yoga for posture.

I recently wrote about gluteal amnesia, and suggested yoga or Pilates as a cure for it. Let’s get more specific.

Your glutes are critical for good posture. Weakened glutes are commonly tied to tight hip flexors, which means anterior pelvic tilt, a fancy way of saying too much lumbar curvature. This is bad.

In addition to hurting your posture, if your butt muscles aren’t doing their job in bending and lifting, then some other muscle is taking up the slack. This is also bad.

Your glutes are big strong muscles intended for heavy work such as lifting, and the muscles which take up the slack tend not to be. Basically, instead of lifting “with your legs, not with your back,” you end up doing the opposite. Lifting with your back puts tremendous strain on your lumbar muscles and discs putting you at higher risk of injur, especially if your lumbar is overcurved. Don’t do this.

So, what to do? Train the glutes.

I live in two complementary exercise worlds; yoga and Pilates, each with its own strengths. Fortunately, something they have in common is a way to work the glutes; the bridge.

Bridge posture:

Lie on your back, hands at your sides with palms down.

  • pull your feet in toward your butt, soles flat to the floor, feet hip width apart
  • reach with your fingers and try to touch your heels
  • engage your core
  • raise your hips until your chest, stomach and thighs make a straight line from kneecaps to neck
  • hold for a breath and lower your butt back to the floor

You can repeat this as many times as you want. As you do so, keep in mind the following’

  • I suggested heels in where you can touch them with your fingertips. This is not an inviolable rule, and may be painful if you have bad knees. Adjust accordingly.
  • The first bridge is with feet hip width apart. After you’ve done a set like that,
    • repeat with feet shoulder width apart, toes turned out and
    • repeat with toes turned in and touching, knees together (pigeon toed)

These three sets will work all three gluteal groups; gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. In addition, the bridge will help stretch your hip flexors, a major cause of gluteal amnesia and anterior pelvic tilt.

Warning; if you’re new to this, take it easy. The glutes are big muscles and it might feel as if these exercises aren’t really doing much, but overdo it and you’ll find out tomorrow that’s not necessarily true.