Bridge Pose, also known as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, moves the spine backwards and removes the strain on the neck caused by the various other movements of Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand Pose). A healthy and flexible spine indicates a healthy nervous system. If nerves are healthy, then man is healthy in mind and body.
Except in the position of the arm, the muscles, spinal cord and joint actions of this pose are similar to that of Setu Bandhasana. The main difference between the Setu Bandhasana and therefore the Bridge Pose is that the Dwi Pada Pitham (Bridge Pose) may be a vinyasa, a dynamic movement that’s coordinated with breath-in and exhalation.
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) is simple, yet versatile exercises can be used in various ways to release tension from the spine and breathing structures, as well as to help balance the leg and hip functions that support similar poses, such as Setu Bandhasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana.
|Known as:||Bridge Pose, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, Dwi Pada Pitham, Two-legged Table, Shoulder Pose, Setu Bandhasana, Kandhrasana|
|IAST:||Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana|
|Pronunciation:||say-too bahn-dah sar-vahn-gah-sa-na|
|Total time:||30 – 60 seconds|
Bhrumadhye or Ajna Chakra
|Chakra:||Sahasrara Chakra, Ajna Chakra, Vishuddha Chakra, Manipura Chakra|
|Focus:||Legs, glutes, back, neck|
|Indications:||Asthma, relieves menstrual pain, menopause symptoms; prevent headaches, sinus problems; energizes thyroid, abdomen, lungs; stress; anxiety|
|Counterposes:||Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest), Bhujangasana (Cobra pose or Snake pose), Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand or Supported shoulderstand), Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-facing dog pose), Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel pose or Upward facing bow pose)|
|Preparatory poses:||Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), Upward Facing Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Hero Pose (Virasana)|
|Follow-up poses:||Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Bound Angle Pose, or Butterfly Pose, or Cobbler’s Pose), Reclining Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana), Supine Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana), Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani), Corpse Pose (Shavasana or Mritasana)|
|Contraindications:||Back or neck injury, spondylitis, osteoporosis condition, knee replacement, medically weak stomach or intestine, migraine, low blood pressure; pregnancy (use props and consult with a qualified teacher or healthcare professional)|
The Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is derived from the Sanskrit name, which is made up of five words — Setu + Baddha + Sarva + Anga + Asana:
- “Setu” = “bridge”
- “Bandha” = “lock or bind”
- “Sarva” = “all”
- “Anga” = “limbs or body part”
- “Asana” = “pose or posture”
The pose is so named because it resembles a bridge, with the practitioner’s body forming an arch. This pose is believed to provide numerous benefits to the body, including stretching the chest, neck, and spine, improving circulation, and strengthening the back, buttocks, and hamstrings. It is also thought to alleviate stress and anxiety, calm the mind, and improve digestion.
Benefits of Bridge Pose — Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Because Bridge Pose — Setu Bandha Sarvangasana revitalizes your legs and stretches your shoulders, it may be a particularly rejuvenating pose for people who spend the day sitting ahead of a computer or driving. It is also a preparatory pose for Salamba Sarvangasana and Urdhva Dhanurasana.
- Improves flexibility in the spine and shoulders
- Stimulates the nervous system Aids digestion
- Opens the chest, neck, and shoulders
- Strengthens your back, glutes, and hamstrings
- Stretches your hip flexors and thighs
- Stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands
- Increases lung capacity, Relieves menstrual and menopausal discomfort
- Relieves high blood pressure, asthma, and sinusitis
- Reduces fatigue
- Energizes the mind
- Relieves mild depression and anxiety (Because your heart is higher than your head in this pose)
- Reduces stress
Bridge Pose Practice Guide
Bridge Pose stretches the back while extending the shoulders to lift the pelvis and torso.
This pose places the heart down most of the torso, creating a slight inversion that improves the return of venous blood to the heart, thereby increasing cardiac output. There may also be a temporary increase in parasympathetic outflow from the central nervous system, which can reduce heart rate.
Accordingly, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana shares many of the potential benefits of traditional inversions, such as the Headstand and Shoulderstand. It can be used as an alternative by people with cervical spine pathology or contraindications that prevent them from performing other inverted postures.
In addition, Bridge Pose stretches the flexor muscles at the front of the pelvis, including the psoas and its synergists.
Begin by dividing the actions of the pelvis, hips and shoulder girdle into its components. Practice the psoas and rectus femoris stretches shown here to prepare to stretch the hips. Add a convenient ingredient as needed for a deeper stretch. Similarly, use shoulder flexor stretches to prepare to stretch the upper arms in the asana.
Bridge Pose — Setu Bandha Sarvangasana instructions
- Start lying on your back, place the feet flat on the floor, a comfortable distance away from your hips.
- Bend the knees and place the feet parallel to each other and hip-width apart. Press your sitting bones down into the floor to create a natural curve in your low back. Lengthen the sides of your body, press the shoulders down to the floor, and bring the shoulder blades more onto your back.
- Inhale, press the feet into the floor, and lift your hips toward the ceiling. Lengthen your tailbone and extend from the pelvis out through the knees.
- Straighten your elbows and clasp the hands together under the back, and roll the right and left shoulders underneath one at a time, drawing the shoulder blades more onto your back. Press the heels down and pull back with the feet toward your shoulders to engage your hamstrings. Press the hands and arms down to create lift in your hips. Keeping the sides of the body lengthened, roll both shoulder blades more deeply onto your back.
- Stay here for 30-60 seconds. Take a deep breath. Release the pose with exhaling slowly. Releasing the hands, walking the feet out and slowly opening the spine reach down on the floor. When the sacrum reaches the floor, lower the ankles and relax for a moment.
Variation of Bridge Pose — Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Bridge pose palms to the lower back
Press the feet into the floor, inhale, and lift your hips higher. Unclasp the hands, shift the body weight slightly to the right and bring the left hand up to cradle your back ribs with your palm. Repeat this action on the other side. Remain in the pose for a few breaths, then release your hands and slowly lower your hips to the floor.
- Spread the toes and press on the inner edges of the feet to draw your thighs parallel.
- Press the back of your head gently into the floor while lifting the chin away from the chest to create and strengthen the natural curve in your neck.
Bridge Pose Palms Up
Follow steps of “Bridge Pose — Setu Bandha Sarvangasana” through “Bridge Pose Palms Up”. Keep the arms by your sides, palms up. If you needed, use a blanket to support your shoulders.
Step-by-step Anatomy Engaging Techniques
- Keep your tailbone down and contract your gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles to pull your pelvis up.
- You may be thinking of the hamstrings as the flexors of your knees. However, these muscles can also transfer their origin to the ischial tuberosities of the pelvis. It can be used to elevate the pelvis.
- Your gluteus minimus is a synergist of hip extension and assists your gluteus maximus when your hip is in this position.
- The greater posterior part of your gluteus medius also helps to stretch your hips.
Arch your back by contracting your erector spinae and quadratus lumborum. Engage these muscles with your gluteals to create a lumbopelvic rhythm, which causes your pelvis to tilt back while your lumbar spine is stretched.
Once you lift your pelvis, relax your hamstrings and activate your quadriceps to deepen your posture. Remember that your quadriceps extend your knees. Because your feet are resting on the mat, the effort to straighten your knees actually lifts your torso.
- Extend your shoulders while contracting your posterior deltoid and teres major muscles. Your latissimus dorsi initiates this action; However, when your arms are in this position, your latissimus dorsi is unable to add much additional extension.
- Contract your triceps to extend your elbows. Raise your forearms by interlocking your fingers and then slowly turning your palms upward. Rotate your shoulders outward with the infra-spinatus and smaller muscles. Your posterior deltoids contribute to this action.
- Note that supplanting your forearms also coordinates to externally rotate your shoulders.
- Finally, connect your scapula with your rhomboids toward the midline and draw your shoulders away from your neck with the lower third of your trapezius.
- These actions work together to open up your chest.
- Although contracting your gluteus maximus has the beneficial effect of stretching your hips, it also has the undesirable effect of rotating your thighs outward, pulling them apart.
- Maintain a beneficial effect while using other muscles to counteract the spasticity of the thighs. To do this, activate your peroneus longus and brevis on the sides of your lower legs to press the balls of your feet into the mat.
- Then try to separate your legs. It engages your tensor fascia lata and gluteus medius (the abductors of your hips).
- Your feet rest on the mat and so your legs will not actually abduct, but your thighs roll inward due to the internal rotation component of these muscles.
- Finally, draw your knees together while contracting your adductor group of muscles on the inner side of your thighs. At the back of these, your adductor magnus, also synergizes with your gluteus maximus to extend your hips.
Precautions and contraindications
Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) emphasizes the back and shoulders, so understanding what precautions and contraindications is necessary. Some of the precautions and contraindications are mentioned below:
- Since this pose puts a lot of pressure on the neck, a person with a neck injury or problem of spondylitis should avoid practicing this yoga pose.
- Persons with weak back can practice this yoga posture but this yoga mudra should not be practiced by a person with back injury or back pain. This will cause more damage.
- Performing this yoga posture properly can cure knee problems within a week, but a person who has had a knee replacement or has a severe osteoporosis condition should avoid practicing this yoga mudra completely. Or the practice of this yoga pose is perfect under the guidance of an experienced teacher/instructor.
- Since the pressure of this pose on the internal organs during practice may not be safe, avoid practicing this asana in people who have a medically weak stomach or intestine.
- Individual with migraine should avoid practicing this yoga posture, as the blood flow in the opposite direction may not be conducive for a migraine patient. Since migraines are essentially caused by a weak digestive system, if food is not digested properly, it can flow in the opposite direction causing discomfort in the food pipe and thus creating pressure in the head.
- Pregnant women should avoid this yoga pose as there is a lot of pressure on the lower abdomen and internal organs which makes breathing difficult which can be harmful for the foetus.