Uta’s Insights: Yoga Pose of the Week—11. Bridge Pose

August 20, 2014 By Uta Pippig

Bridge Pose—Setu Bandhasana

One Legged Bride pose. © Tim DeFrisco
One Legged Bride pose. © Tim DeFrisco

Setu Bandhasana is a gentle backbend that opens and strengthens the chest, strengthens the muscles between the shoulder blades, and increases the flexibility of the shoulders, wrists, and upper back.

This is a great exercise for people who have to sit for long periods of time at work. Because Bridge pose opens up the front of the body, and strengthens the hamstrings and gluteus muscles as well as the lumbar spine and hips, it is also effective in improving posture. Plus, it supports the nervous system.

I enjoy practicing this asana because in addition to its wonderful benefits it requires a focus on core work while exercising. It is a fun pose to do with a partner.

How to practice the Bridge pose:

  1. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees so that you can just touch your heels with your fingertips. The feet are close to your buttocks and flat on the floor. Have your arms close to your body, palms facing down.
  2. As you inhale, push down with your hands and lift your hips off the floor until your body is linear. Lengthen your pelvis out and away so that you are pushing your pelvis away from your chest and the chest in the opposite direction away from your pelvis. Keep the thighs pointing straight ahead.
  3. Bring your hands together, interlocking your fingers, and press the little fingers to the floor. This will help to lift the pelvis even higher. To get the full benefit of the exercise, roll up on top of your shoulders, protecting the spine by rolling the shoulders under―first one side, then the other. Your arms will act as support. Remain in this position for five to ten breaths.
  4. You can see a more advanced version―the One Legged Bridge pose―in the photo above. Here you bring your feet close together, lean slightly towards one leg, and press the foot on this side into the floor. With the next inhalation, lift the other leg up, straightening it until it is perpendicular to the floor, with the foot and toes pointed towards the sky. Continue to engage the glute muscles as you lift the leg higher. Remain in this position for five to ten breaths as well, focusing on lifting the pelvis up and keeping the body long. To move out of this asana, slowly bring the extended leg back to the original position and repeat on the other side.

I hope you will enjoy crossing many “bridges” with this asana.

Namaste!

Yours,

Reading Suggestions:

  1. Yoga for Performancesm: Introduction
  2. Yoga for Performancesm: Runners’ Sequence, Part 1
  3. Yoga for Performancesm: Runners’ Sequence, Part 2

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