Setu Bandha Sarvangasana- Bridge pose
Typically, the name of yoga postures is derived from their appearance and what the poses mimic in nature. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, interpreted as bridge pose, is a posture that looks like a man-made or natural bridge, but also contains a deeper meaning. Bridge pose symbolizes a spiritual connection between the material, mundane world and the divine divided by the river of life. In Sanskrit setu literally means bond, dike or dam. This is a part of the supine backbending family of asanas and may be placed at any point throughout a sequence. Instructors may also use this a means of energizing and warming up the body for class or include bridge pose at the close of a practice to calm the body.
Here are some tips for how to safely include setu bandha sarvangasana in your practice:
- Find a comfortable place to practice with soft overhead lighting to alleviate any strain on your eyes and increase relaxation. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet hip width apart and parallel with one another on your mat. Root your upper arm bones into the earth and hug them into your ribcage.
- Engage your core drawing the navel to the spine. On an exhale press into all four corners of your feet, shoulders, and upper arm bones while lifting your hips to the ceiling.
- Avoid tucking your chin and keep your gaze to the ceiling to create space for breath and alleviate tension in your neck.
- To increase fluid in the spine and simultaneously build lower back and core strength you can lift and lower your hips for multiple reps. Waving bridge is also a great technique to open and build strength in the shoulder girdle. To increase chest and shoulder opening feel free to clasp your hands together and retract the shoulder blades drawing them closer to one another.
- For a more restorative technique you can place a block under the pelvis. Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths.
- Gently ease out of the posture lowering from your shoulders bone by bone until you reach your hips. Feel free to massage the sacrum by circling your knees side to side applying light pressure to the back and out hips.
- Bridge pose is strengthening for the midsection of the body, an inversion where you place the head below the heart, but also opens the heart and throat chakra. Notice each sensation in your physical body, but also the effects this pose has on your physiology and emotions.
- Strengthens shoulders, core, legs and glutes.
- Stretches the chest, neck, hip flexors and quadriceps.
- Stimulates thyroid, digestion, and can be energizing and calming.
- Lower back injury
- Neck injury
- Knee pain