Rather than thinking of it as a gateway to a deeper backbend (such as Wheel pose / Urdhva Dhanurasana), why not explore Bridge as a stand-alone pose and feel what it does for you?
Getting into the pose
Before you start, lie on your back with the arms palm facing down by your sides. Take a moment to become soft. Then bend your knees and place the soles of your feet down parallel to each other, close enough to your hips.
Root down through the feet and extend deep down into the earth. Pull one shoulder underneath at a time and snuggle them into the floor so that you create a slight lift in the chest. Gently curl the tailbone under as you lift the hips up. Maybe the hips want to go high, maybe only a little way up. Maybe you want to make some movements, rolling the spine up and then placing it back down on the mat one vertebra at a time. Try to keep the knees from ‘splaying’ out and notice how strongly the legs have to work in this position. Hold the pose for a few breaths…
Different things to try out:
- Move the feet a little closer or further away
- Change the depth of your breath
- Alter the position of the arms. You could try bending them at the elbows (forearms point straight upwards) to create more lift in the chest area. You could also try snuggling the shoulder blades closer together and clasping the fingertips.
Note: Keep length in the side body, don’t pull the shoulder blades down too much towards the hips!
Have a look at my step-by-step instructions on Setu Bandha Sarvangasana / Bridge pose for more tips and variations.