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Setu-bandhasana (Bridge Pose)


Bridge

The basic Setu-bandhasana -सेतुबन्धासन –

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(Bridge Pose) is a beginner-level pose and is highly beneficial for the health of the shoulders, spine, hips and thighs. At a deeper level, it helps calm the mind and can help relieve stress, mental fatigue, anxiety and depression.

Step-by-step

  1. Lie down flat on your back with arms alongside the body, palms facing down.
  2. Bend your knees and place the feet flat on the floor. Keep your feet hip width apart, parallel to each other, and with the heels as close to the buttocks as possible.
  3. Pressing the upper arms and feet into the floor, while inhaling begin to lift your buttocks up towards the ceiling. Try to distribute your weight equally across the inside and outside of your feet.
  4. Once in the final position, continue to breathe your normal breathing pattern. Rolling from side to side try to roll the shoulders back, bringing the shoulder blades close to each other. This will help lift the chest up higher and bring the chest closer to the chin.
  5. In the final position, maintain a gentle pressure with the heels and the upper arms to keep the buttocks and chest lifted up. Stay there for about 8 to 10 breaths, if comfortable.
  6. To come out of the pose, while exhaling, slowly release the buttocks and spine down and rest in Shavasana for a few breaths.

Variations of the Bridge Pose

Variation 1


Bridge

  1. Come into the final pose as described above, with the buttocks lifted up.
  2. Clasp the hands under your back, if you can, interlock the fingers and pull the hands away, toward the feet. Keep the arms on the ground and the elbows straight. This position of the hands naturally helps roll the shoulders back and lift the chest up higher.
  3. If you are unable to clasp the hands together, keep the arms parallel to each other with the palms facing down, just as above.
  4. To come out of the pose, release the hands and while exhaling, slowly release the buttocks and spine down and rest in Shavasana for a few breaths.

Variation 2


Bridge

This is a minor variation to variation 1 above.

In the final pose, while maintaining the lift of the buttocks, try to lift one leg up to a vertical position and hold it there for a couple of breaths. Then repeat it with the other leg.

Variation 3


Bridge

  1. Lie down flat on your back with arms alongside the body, palms facing down.
  2. Bend your knees and place the feet flat on the floor. Adjust the position of the feet so you can hold on to the ankles with the corresponding hands.
  3. While breathing in, and gently pulling the feet toward you, begin to lift the buttocks up. With a gentle pressure on the ground with the feet try to lift the thighs and buttocks to their highest position.
  4. Rolling the shoulders back, try to lift the chest up high as well.
  5. Follow the instructions above to maintain the pose and to come out of the pose.
  6. In this variation, if you are unable to hold on to the ankles, you may use a strap wrapped around the ankles. Using the strap to pull the ankles towards the buttocks will have the same effect as pulling the ankles with the hands.

Variation 4 (dynamic movement)


Bridge

  1. Lie down flat on your back with arms alongside the body, palms facing down.
  2. Bend your knees and place the feet flat on the floor. Keep your feet hip width apart, parallel to each other, and with the heels as close to the buttocks as possible.
  3. Inhaling raise your buttocks off the floor as high as you can while simultaneously raising the arms up and bringing them back overhead.
  4. Exhaling, bring the buttocks and the back down slowly while simultaneously bringing the arms back alongside the body.
  5. Continue in this manner for 4-5 breaths. After the last inhalation, hold the position for an additional 4 breaths before coming out of the pose.

Variation 5 (using a block)


Bridge

If you have difficulty holding the final position either due to weakness or pain in the back, you may use a block to provide support to the back. This will give relief to the back and also allow you to hold the position longer.

Benefits of Bridge Pose: 

  • Stretches and strengthens the chest, neck and shoulders
  • Strengthens the entire back, buttocks, quads and hamstrings
  • Helps alleviate stress and mild depression
  • Calms the mind and the nervous system
  • Stimulates the lungs, thyroid glands, and abdominal organs
  • Reduces mild symptoms of backache and headache
  • Helps relieve anxiety, and sleep better
  • Rejuvenates fatigued legs and thighs
  • Improves metabolism and digestion
  • Therapeutic for hypertension, osteoporosis, and sinusitis

Contraindications and cautions

Avoid the pose if you have severe back pain or neck injury

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