Dvipada Pitham (Bridge Pose)
How to do it
Begin on your back with your knees bent, feet about hip-distance apart, close to your buttocks. Arms are extended along the body.
Inhale: Gradually roll your hips up, pulling your knees slightly away from the hips, but making sure that your knees stay aligned over the ankles.
Exhale: Roll down one vertebrae at a time.
Repeat the pose several times, then hold the pose.
Breathing in Dvipada Pitham
Inhale: Lengthen slightly from your neck to your knees, while keeping your pelvis raised.
Exhale: Contract your abdomen and press your feet firmly into the ground. Your buttocks will engage to accomplish this action. There is no need to intentionally tense them; instead, focus on pressing your feet down into the ground. Keep the back of your neck long and keep your knees aligned over your ankles.
Both arms up
Dvipada Pitham: Both arms up is a great way to mobilize the shoulders, stretch the neck and lengthen both sides of the torso.
Both arms up with roll down
Dvipada Pitham: Both arms up with roll down is excellent for lengthening both sides of the torso and massaging the entire back. Keep stretching upward with your hands when you roll down.
Dvipada Pitham: Arms out works great for students who have shoulder mobility issues. It is also useful if you want to stretch your chest without tensing your upper back. Be sure to keep your shoulders away from your ears.
Dvipada Pitham: “Robot arms” helps to lift your chest up higher by using arm leverage, which means more active engagement on the upper back and deeper stretch in the neck. Be sure to pull your shoulder blades down toward the waist to avoid shoulder/neck tension.
Dvipada Pitham: Fingers interlaced is great for stretching and massaging the area between the shoulder blades. Be sure to pull your arms away from the body as you roll down and then relax your shoulders toward the floor when you roll up. Be sure not to shrug your shoulders toward the ears.
Block between the knees
Dvipada Pitham: Block between the knees is very useful for working with hip-knee-ankle tracking, which is usually at the root of many knee problems. It also works great for strengthening the inner thighs and increasing overall stability and muscular coordination in the lower body.
Dvipada Pitham: Arm sweep is great for mobilizing the shoulders and actively stretching the upper back. Be sure to pull your arms away from the body when you bring them down and widen your shoulder blades.
One arm over head
Dvipada Pitham: One arm over head is excellent for stretching one side of the neck and mobilizing the shoulder. It is very useful when your neck feels tight. You can also use this version to compensate for other more difficult postures that have you hold your head in a fixed position.
Dvipada Pitham: Split arm movement works well both to mobilize the shoulders and to train your attention. You have to focus to keep track of the arm movement, which means that you cannot think of anything else.
One leg extended
Dvipada Pitham: One leg extended is a great stretch for the hip flexors on one side. Just be sure that your lower back feels supported and not overextended. You can also experiment with turning the toes of the extended leg slightly out or slightly in to vary the stretch a little.
One leg lift
Dvipada Pitham: One leg lift is a challenging pose that strengthens all the muscles of the supporting leg, specifically the glutes and hamstrings. It can be problematic for folks with sensitive scrums and lower backs, so it might not be the best choice for them. It is essential for everyone to keep the pelvis leveled while lifting it up to avoid any sort of sacrum strain.
Dvipada Pitham: Ankle hold is the most challenging of all Bridge variations; it actively stretches all anterior structures of the body (and the back of the neck) and engages all posterior structures. It can be rather stressful for backs, necks, shoulders and knees because holding on to the ankles creates a closed loop, which makes the pose more stressful for the joints. There needs to be a clear justification for doing this pose, and extensive preparation for all the potentially vulnerable areas listed above.
Heels and toes
Dvipada Pitham: Heels and toes strengthens the calves and ankles, as well as other posterior structures of the body (hamstrings, glutes and lower back). It is super important that the knees stay align over the ankles when you do this move, so it might be useful to put the block between your knees.