The word ‘bridge’ has been derived from the Sanskrit language, ‘Yuj‘ which means to join or to unite. Through yoga, the aim is to achieve self-realization and healing from all kinds of suffering. It is one of the best holistic approaches to develop a connection between the mind, the body, and the soul. It not only helps provide relief from certain issues but also calms the mind and strengthens and increases the flexibility of the body.
One of the easiest, effective and energizing poses is Bridge Pose/ Setu Bandhasana.
Setu Bandhasana/ Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
The word has been derived from setu, meaning bridge, bandha which means building/locking, sarva meaning all, anga, limb and asana, pose or posture. Since the body after completing the pose resembles a bridge, hence it is known as bridge pose. This pose is versatile as it can be done either in the beginning (prepping up your body for deeper backbends), or at the end of the session. It is also a preparatory pose for the Shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana) and Upward Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana). It is the best pose for those who have desk jobs or a sedentary lifestyle.
Benefits of Setu Bandhasana
The posture has various benefits for different parts of the body. Some of them are listed below:-
- Stretches the spine, legs, glutes, shoulders, neck, chest, thighs and improves their flexibility
- Lengthens and strengthens the spine
- Tones the buttocks
- Good for high blood pressure, osteoporosis, sinusitis, migraine, stress, fatigue, insomnia, headache and helps ease muscle tension
- Calms the mind and provides relief psychological disorders such as depression, anxiety
- Helps asthmatic patients and people suffering from respiratory issues as this pose increases lung capacity (because the chest is open)
- Stimulates the respiratory system, the abdominal organs, thyroid glands and improves digestion
- A major help in back pain(especially slip disc and lower back pain) as it creates space between vertebrae and relieves pressure on the discs
- Provides relief in menstrual pain and during menopause
- Helps burn the stomach fat as the pose stretches the stomach muscles and helps improve metabolism
Directions to Setu Bandhasana
- Lie with your back straight and body stretched on the floor
- Fold your knees and ensure that your feet are hip-distance apart
- Ankles and knees should be in a straight line and should be few inches away from the pelvis
- Hands should be placed at the side, palms facing down, that is touching the floor
- While inhaling, slowly lift your lower back, then middle back and then finally upper back from away from the floor, towards the ceiling while pressing your feet and hand on the floor
- The hips should be squeezed. The chest should touch the chin. The gaze should be towards the ceiling. Make sure to lift your body forward and do not bring the chin down. The face should be straight. The pressure will be on your neck and shoulders and hands.
- Your buttocks will firm up. Thighs should be parallel to the floor.
- Keep breathing normally and you can interlace your fingers and place them on the floor to support your body and back in lifting.
- Hold the posture for 30 seconds to a minute
- Release the pose gently while exhaling and dropping the knees together.
While performing the asana or while releasing it, do it gently to not overstretch your neck and shoulders. An advanced version of the pose would be placing the feet touching the buttocks on the floor.
Points to take care of:-
- The feet should be parallel with the ankle; that is they should be directly under your knees
- You can interlace your hands and place them under the torso to support the lower back and shoulders to retain the posture. However, take care that the shoulder blades will remain static (do not move them)
- Also, do not move your head to the left or right
- The hips should not be squeezed. The shoulder, neck, back, stomach and thighs should feel a stretch
There might be variations in your stretches, someday you would be able to lift your hips high and some days it might be low. There is nothing to worry about. Just listen to your body and for best results include this asana in your daily routine. The push should be a gentle one, let the body work on its own with the help of your push and do not force yourself into the pose. A word of caution- those with neck injuries, knee pain and in case of intense back pain, should do this asana only after consulting with the doctor or physiotherapist.