Asana series: Bridge pose – Setu-Bandhasana

Another great asana to practise.

bridge-heading

A very easy and helpful asana that is suitable for everyone. You may find that some yoga traditions call this pose – Skandhara asana – Pose on the Shoulders.

Benefits
  • strengthens abdominal and lumbar muscles
  • strengthens back muscles, hips, pelvis and legs
  • good for knees by strengthening muscles around the knees
  • helps with lower blood pressure
  • increases suppleness of spine
  • increases suppleness in and strengthens wrists if supported by hands
  • helps or prevents sciatica problems
  • the chin lock supports correct functioning of the thyroid, therefore helping the endocrine system
  • counter pose for Plough pose – Halasana – part of the Sivananda sequence
Contraindication
  • if you suffer neck or spine problems do not raise the abdomen too high
How to practice
  Half Bridge

1.~Start by lying flat on the back, arms at your sides, palms facing down. Bend both knees and bring the feet flat on the floor close to the buttocks. Legs are wide apart (about hip width), feet are parallel. Neck and spine is long and flat. Shoulders are relaxed.

2.~As you inhale, start lifting your hips and lower back up, creating a straight line between shoulders and knees. Keep squeezing gluts in. Keep breathing. Stay in the position as long as is comfortable. To release the position, start rolling your back down vertebrae by vertebrae, hips last as you exhale.
NOTE: This position can be dynamic by raising hips up and down a few times. Inhale up, exhale down.

3.~ After practising this asana rest by bringing your legs up towards the chest and holding your legs with arms and gently squeezing towards the chest. This helps release any remaining tension in the lower back.

   Full Bridge

1.~Start by lying flat on the back, arms at your sides, palms facing down. Bend both knees and bring the feet flat on the floor close to the buttocks. Legs are wide apart (about hip width), feet are parallel. Neck and spine is long and flat. Shoulders are relaxed.

2.~As you inhale, start lifting your hips, lower back, middle back and upper back creating an arch. Keep squeezing glutes and shoulder blades in. Keep breathing. You can either rest in the position or you can gently roll your shoulders underneath one by one to open your chest even higher. Keep the head and shoulders on the ground. Raise the hips up as much as possible, getting a good arch to the upper back as well. Stay in the position as long as comfortable or for about 30 seconds. To release the position, start rolling your back down vertebrae by vertebrae, hips last as you exhale.

3.~ After practising this asana rest by bringing your legs up towards the chest and holding your legs with arms and gently squeezing towards the chest. This helps release any remaining tension in the lower back.

Always roll your spine vertebrae by vertebrae, try not to collapse. Don’t rush, focus on every move of your spine. If you are stable enough, close your eyes and relax in the position. Observe your body. Feel the strength growing from your knees Listen to your body to make sure that you don’t over do it. Always make sure that you have enough strength to come out of the position to avoid collapsing.

Work slowly, consciously and in rhythm with your breath.
Observe:
      • hips should remain up as high as possible
      • feet should be as parallel as possible
      • try not to turn feet outwards, nor allow knees to bow outward
      • keep your head and shoulders down
      • correct hands position if using hands to support the lower back
      • correct breathing
      • If you have any doubts or concerns contact me or discuss with your physician
More variations:

To increase the arch of the back you may clasp your fingers and stretch your arms underneath your body. Make sure that you keep both shoulders on the ground and also your arms and feet are steady on the ground.

full-bridge variation1

One of the options for those who are a bit more flexible is to walk slowly with your feet closer to the body and then gently hold your ankles. This will help you to raise the hips higher and increase the arch of the back. Make sure that your heals are fully on the ground.

 

full-bridge variation 2

 

Another option for most yoga practitioners is to use your hands as support for your lower back. This will help you to raise the hips higher and increase the arch of the back and to hold the position for longer. Make sure fingers pointing in towards the spine and thumbs up alongside the body.

 

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Happy practising!

Yoga is joy

Resources: personal practice, Sivananda yoga Teacher’s Training Manual, System of Yoga in Daily Life book

 

Summary
Article Name
Asana series: Bridge pose - Setu-Bandhasana
Description
Very helpful and easy asana that is suitable for everyone. It strengthens abdominal and back muscles, hips and legs. It also prevents and reduce sciatica issues.
Author
Publisher Name
Walking the Path
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