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So I am switching my focus slightly away from the pancake and middle splits, to work on the bridge and pike. 

The main progress that I made with the pancake and middle splits was mainly psychological. Getting more comfortable with the horse stance/Sumo Squat allowed me to start to be able to hold an isometric side split. This was something that has always scared me due to a previous knee injury. 

My decision to switch is based on partly based on were I found weakness in my hamstrings and Calfs and also a curiosity to try out more agonist/antagonist approaches to stretching. I also want to experiment with more movement in the bridge (particularly rotating in and out of it). 

I have been flicking through a yoga anatomy book series called the yoga mat companion. It shares several common features with stretch therapy, the main key features with stretch therapy. These are Agonist/Antagonist approach, facilitated stretching (sounds like the contract/relax approach). There are other features that I need to read more about to understand. 

I hope to use both of these approaches to bring some improvement to my bridge and pike. Current routine will be mainly:


- Elevated Calf stretch

- Some pike pulses that focus on straightening the legs

- SL down dog

- Down dog (experimenting with elevating the hands) 


- Relaxed Lunge

- quad stretches (lying + kneeling)

- Some chest/shoulder stretches

- Practice bridge Variations for rounds

I will update with form on my log to see how it goes. 


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Hello Phil,

Good stuff.  Some thoughts.

Pike: Add the lunge hamstring stretch to your routine.  It is fundamental to getting a pike.



Your photo shows a flat thoracic spine and less than 180 degrees shoulder flexion.  You need to work on both. The thoracic spine has to bend and you need >180 degrees of shoulder flexion.  The goal is to get your armpits in front of your hands.

Here is a video to get you started.


The "Master the Back Bend" program has more shoulder/thoracic stretches.


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