Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

yoga pose - female in sport clothes performing exercise

Bridge pose is a rejuvenating back bend which is very gentle.  It opens up the chest and shoulder area.   If you find it difficult to hold the lift, slide a block or bolster beneath your sacrum and rest your pelvis on it for support.

BENEFITS OF BRIDGE POSE:

  • Stretches and opens the whole chest and shoulder area
  • Strengthens any weakness in the lower back, hips and legs
  • Tones the glutes giving more definition to the buttocks
  • Tones the neck, throat and chin helping to alleviate a double chin
  • Anti-aging benefits of a mild inversion
  • Reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia
  • Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid
  • Improves digestion
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Relieves menstrual discomfort
  • Helps to relieve the sympthoms of menopause
  • Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteopenia and osteoporosis
  • Passively lengthens the psoas major and iliacus muscles in the hips

WHO SHOULDN’T DO BRIDGE POSE:

  • If you suffer from a neck injury avoid this pose unless you are being supervised by a Yoga Tutor.

HOW TO GET INTO THE POSTURE:

Lie down on your mat, face upwards with your hands placed at the side of your body with your fingers pointing in the direction of your toes.  Bend your knees, placing the soles of your feet firmly on the mat, hip distance apart, parallel and as close as you can too your buttocks.  Relax your shoulders and lower back into the floor and take a couple of deep relaxing breaths. If you are new to yoga I would suggest you do a gentle warm up first so you can get a feel for the posture.

On an “In” breath gently press your feet into the floor and lift your tail bone, pelvis and lower back just a couple of inches off the ground, pause, and then on “out” breath gently release back down to the floor.  Repeat a couple of times moving slowly and engaging your breath,  gently warming up the vertebrae of your spine as you do so.

When you feel ready to move into the full posture take a long, slow, deep breath in and then as you gently exhale press your lower back into the floor lengthening into your spine.  This tilts your pelvis towards your navel.  Keeping this tilt in your pelvis breathe in and pressing into your feet send your knees forward,  gently lifting your tail bone, pelvis and lower back off the floor coming up onto your shoulders.  Keep your hips elevated.  Balance your body weight equally between your feet and shoulders.  Release any major clenching of the buttocks.  Keeping your hands on the floor gently bring them in under your buttocks and interlock your fingers, palms of your hands facing each other with the knuckles gently extending towards your ankles.  This allows you to lift and open your chest more, drawing your shoulders blades towards each other and allowing them to release down your spine.  Your chest will be pressing towards your chin and the chin will likewise be pressing towards your chest.  Do NOT move your head whilst in this position as it may cause a neck injury.  Ensure that all parts of your feet remain in contact with the floor as you gently press into the big toe and inner edges of your feet engaging the quadriceps.  Knees are hip with apart and parallel.

Hold the pose but NOT your breath.  On each “in” breath lift your hips a ¼ of an inch closer to the ceiling, drawing your tail bone towards your pubis and also extend your knuckles towards your ankles.  Travel inwards and release any tension you maybe experiencing in your body on an out breath.

To come out of the pose, take a breath “In” and on an “out” breath very slowly uncurl from your neck releasing your upper back, mid back and lower back gently back down onto the floor and RELAX.  You can release your legs back onto the mat and rest for a couple of releasing breaths in Savasana.

Adaptions:

I like to use this pose as a form of moving meditation as follows:

Lie on your back with your knees bent in the correct position.

  • Breathe in:         Raise your arms up and out over your head relaxing onto the floor behind
  • Breathe out:      Lift into bridge pose
  • Breathe in:         Draw your arms back down by your side
  • Breathe out:      Gently release your spine and buttocks back down onto the mat

Repeat a number of times, closing your eyes and feeling the movement deep within your body. Om Shanti

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