Setu Bandhasana: Bridge Pose
Setu bandhasana (SET-too bahn-DAH-sa-na) provides a great stretch for the chest, hip flexors, and spine. Practice this pose to strengthen your legs and glutes or as a gentle inversion to calm your mind.
Philosophy + Origin
Like some other yoga poses, the name for bridge pose comes from its physical shape. The bridge pose is also a reminder of the opportunity to cross over from one place to another. The bridge is a connection between two different places, which can be physical, spiritual, or 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.
- For an additional shoulder stretch, interlace your fingers underneath your hips.
- Place a bolster or block under your pelvis for a more restorative version.
- Fold a blanket and place it under your shoulders for extra cushion.
- Begin lying on your back with knees bent, soles of your feet on the ground and knees to the ceiling. Place your feet parallel to each other with heels right under your knees.
- Place your arms by your sides, palms face down.
- On an exhale, press your feet firmly into the ground. Lift your tailbone off the ground, then lower back, then mid back.
- Press your knees forward, away from your hips.
- Lift your chest toward your chin, and your chin away from your chest.
- Keep your thighs parallel, gently hugging the inner knees toward each other.
- Hold for up to one minute. To release, gently lower your hips back down to the ground.
- Setu = bridge
- Bandha = lock
- Asana = pose
- Stretches your chest, spine, and hips.
- Strengthens your back, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Rejuvenates tired legs.
- Calms your brain and soothes your central nervous system.
- Reduces stress and anxiety.
- Encourages transformation.
Parsvottanasana: Intense Side Stretch Pose
From lengthening the spine to stretching the legs to calming the mind, there’s a little bit of everything in parsvottanasana (parsh-voh-tahn-AHS-ah-nah) Also known as intense side stretch pose or pyramid pose, this shape is helpful for finding balance while stretching hamstrings.
Parsvottanasana requires a combination of flexibility, strength, and patience. With the help of props such as blocks or a wall, the\is pose becomes accessible for everyone.
- Blocks: Place hands on blocks to help keep the torso long.
- Wall: Place hands on a wall in front of you to work on strengthening the muscles of the back.
- Heart opening variation: Take the hands in reverse prayer position behind the back to stretch and open your shoulders and chest while also challenging your balance. If reverse prayer isn’t accessible, you can still bring the arms behind the back, reaching for opposite elbows instead.
- Adjust your stance: If the back heel is lifted off of the floor, shorten the stance so you can push through the heel to activate the back leg. For more stability, widen your stance.