Shoulder Bridge is an intermediate - advanced Pilates exercise. It requires a lot of strength from the abdominals and hamstrings as they stabilize a lifted pelvis against the movement of a fully extended leg.
The skills and core strength to do Shoulder Bridge can be developed in stages (see *). Start by practicing just the hip lift, then move on to lifting one foot off mat, and finally to the extended lower/lift of the leg.Pelvic curl is a good building block exercise for shoulder bridge, as is bridge on the ball.
1. Shoulder Bridge Prep
Inhale: Press down through your feet to lengthen your spine and press you hips up. Come to a bridge position on your shoulders with your knees, hips and shoulders in one line. Your abs and hamstrings should be well engaged.
Pause at the top of the bridge to practice lifting one leg, then the other, off the mat. If you are stable with this part of the exercise, proceed to step 2.
*This is as far as many of you will want to take this exercise until you build your leg and abdominal strength. It is very good to practice just this lift.
2. Extend One Leg
3. Lower One Leg
If you feel strong and your position is stable(chest open, hips even, pelvis lifted), go to step 3.
*If you are getting a little shaky here, this is a good time to fold your working leg down to the floor, rest and do this much again.
4. Flex Kick Up
Exhale: Return your foot to a slight point and fold the working knee back to your chest and return your foot to the floor.
Roll down through your spine to return to your starting position.
Repeat this exercise two to three times on each side.
5. Shoulder Bridge Notes
Shoulder bridge should be controlled and flowing, with an easy coordination of movement and breath. This is a wonderful time to review the Pilates principles and use them to support an advanced exercise.
You might like to try Shoulder Bridge with the Medicine Ball -- just for fun.