Five Ways to Practice Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) by Mary Pat FitzPatrick - Mind Body Solutions
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Pose of the Month

Five Ways to Practice Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) by Mary Pat FitzPatrick


setu = bridge
bandha = lock
sarva = all
anga = limb
asana = pose

Linking these Sanskrit words translates into “construction of a bridge”, thus the name Bridge Pose. This versatile backbend has many variations which reveal diverse effects in the body. The pose may energize and empower or may restore and reduce stress and strain. Just a few of the many benefits of the pose may include: improved flexibility in the spine and shoulders, strengthening the back, improved lung capacity, reduction of blood pressure, energizing the mind and stress reduction.

In recognition of the FIFTH year of our Kiss My Asana Yogathon starting April 1, we will explore five variations of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. The KMA Yogathon presents a great opportunity to explore poses many ways, noticing the wondrous effects in your body. Check out the slideshow below to see members of the MBS tribe demonstrate five different ways to practice this pose.


Here we see Jeff expanding with reference. Start with feet firmly grounded. You may have an assistant guiding internal rotation of thighs. Length of back and sacrum supported by criss-crossed bolsters. Horizontal folded blanket pressing bottom edge of shoulder blades into the body. Arms extended with palms of hands firmly grounded on blocks. Head supported on blankets. Long, arched bridge-like entire front body. Broad and open heart and chest.


In this version, Joann simultaneously allows the pose to settle and stimulate. Feet, sacrum, head, shoulders and arms grounded on floor and bolster. Length through the hip flexors and internally rotated thighs. Tailbone extended toward the back of the knees. Space created throughout abdominal area and back of the neck, stimulating abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid. Tops of shoulders rolling towards the floor as arms pressing down, shoulder blades pressing up into the back, helping create a lifted sternum. Strength and length allow for invigoration and ease through the back and front body.


Ahh.... look at beautiful Amy restoring. Lie down centered on some sort of lift, blankets or maybe two end to end bolsters. Relax your head, shoulders, and arms on the floor. The edge of the lift presses into the tips of the shoulder blades, opening the chest, rolling the tops of the shoulders down. The neck is long and face is soft. Straps around the thighs and calves give a feeling of reference and relief, supporting the legs and allowing them to be free of tension and movement. With the head below the heart, one may experience a slower heart rate. Breath becomes deep and full, and blood pressure may lower. The brain calms.


Xi uses the pose to energize with effort and ease. His feet are placed firmly on floor, close to sit bones with knees bent. Pelvis lifted, lengthening through hip flexors. Sacrum may be on a block or lifted away from the floor. Push the knees away from hips, lengthening the tailbone towards the back of the knees. Actively internally rotate thighs. Hamstrings and buttocks engage. Extend through the arms, staying on top of the shoulders. Lift chin slightly away from the sternum. Relax neck and face. Breathe.


Together, Dave and Kathy create space. Dave begins centered in chair, feet and sit bones grounded and sternum lifted. Narrow, horizontal blanket folded across shoulder blades. Ground down to extend up, beyond the top of the head. With dowel in hand, inhale arms up to Urdhva Hastasana (arms above head pose) broadening and expanding around the chest. Continue extending and externally rotating arms up and back into a slight backbend. Space is created for the abdominal organs to release away from one another, intercostal muscles spreading out. Option- partner assists, gently lifting dowel and giving a reference at shoulder, and/or sacrum with knee or hip.