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Bridge Pose - Setu Bandhasana

 

Setu Bandhasana: Bridge Pose


Pose Description

A calming pose that is great for relieving stress, Setu Bandhasana (SET-too BAHN-dah-sana), or Bridge pose, provides a great stretch for chest, neck, and spine while also massaging your internal organs. As helpful for improving digestion as it is for reducing insomnia, the long list of benefits that comes with Bridge pose makes a convincing argument for practicing it regularly.

Philosophy + Origin

Like other yoga poses, the name for Bridge pose comes from its physical shape. However, there is another way to understand and think about this posture. When you focus your attention less on the shape of a bridge and more on its symbolism, you begin to understand this pose as an opportunity to cross over from one place to another. The bridge is connection between two different places, which can be physical, spiritual, and psychological. By forming a bridge with your body, you create a structure that invites transformation, one that can get you from where you are to where you want to be.

ADJUSTMENTS/MODIFICATIONS:

  • Decrease the intensity of the posture by only lifting your hips and lower back off of the floor.
  • Increase the intensity of the posture by changing the position of your hands, either interlacing the fingers underneath your back or reaching for your ankles.
  • Place a bolster or block under your pelvis for a more restorative version.
  • Fold a blanket and place it under your shoulders to help protect your neck.

CONTRAINDICATIONS AND CAUTIONS:

  • Neck injury
  • Knee injury
  • Late-term pregnancy

TIPS:

While a wonderful pose, there are a few alignment tips you must take seriously to practice Bridge safely. First and foremost, do not move your head while in this posture as it can cause injury to your neck. Second, make sure your knees stay stacked over your ankles. It can be tempting to move your heels back closer to your body to lift higher or find your ankles, but doing so can cause unnecessary strain in your knees.

STEP-BY-STEP:

  1. Start by lying on your back on your mat, your arms extended down by your sides, palms face down. Bend your knees, setting the soles of your feet on the ground. Align your feet so your ankles are directly below your knees, hip-width apart.
  2. On an exhale, press your feet firmly into the ground. Use your arms for extra support as you draw your tailbone up and lift your glutes off the floor. Keep your glute muscles firm but not clenched. Your thighs and inner feet should stay parallel as you lift up. If you want to deepen the pose, interlace your fingers beneath your back and continue to extend through your arms. This action will help you stay on the tops of your shoulders and increase the expansion in your chest.
  3. Breathing smoothly, continue to push into your feet so your thighs are level with the floor. Although your knees will stay over your heels, push them forward away from your hips so you encourage your tailbone to lengthen.
  4. Firm your shoulder blades against your back as you lift through your sternum toward your chin. Keep your shoulder blades broad by engaging your outer arms.
  5. Hold the pose for up to 60 seconds and then release down to your mat on an exhalation.

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PREPARATORY POSES:

  • Bhujangasana
  • Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  • Virasana

FOLLOW-UP POSES:

  • Salamba Sarvangasana
  • Urdhva Dhanurasana

SANSKRIT:

  • Setu = bridge
  • Bandha = lock
  • Asana = pose

PHYSICAL BENEFITS:

  • Stretches your chest, neck, spine, and hips
  • Strengthens your back, glutes, and hamstrings
  • Improves digestion by massaging abdominal organs
  • Stimulates lungs and thyroid glands
  • Eases symptoms of menopause
  • Alleviates back aches, headaches, and insomnia
  • Rejuvenates tired legs

ENERGETIC BENEFITS:

  • Calms your brain and soothes your central nervous system
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Eases mild depression
  • Encourages transformation

MANTRA:

“Om Namah Shivaya”

A powerful mantra, “Om Namah Shivaya” encourages transformation by calling on Shiva to help us slay our demons, burning away illusions and obstacles that get in our way.

MUDRA: Lotus

A prominent symbol of transformation, you can practice lotus mudra by bringing your hands together at your heart center and then opening your palms while keeping the thumbs and pinky fingers connected.

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