The Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) – (SET-too BAHN-dah)
setu = dam, dike, or bridge
bandha = lock
The bridge pose is one of my favorite yoga poses. Too bad I’m still struggling to stretch to the side – there’s no way I could get myself bent over like this at all! There are so many benefits to using the bridge pose daily, it stretches your chest, neck and spine, it calms your brain, helps alleviate stress and mild depression, it stimulates your abdominal organs, lungs and even you thyroid. The bridge pose can rejuivinate your tired legs, improve digestion and help relieve the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort.
To do the bridge pose: lie down face up on floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under shoulders to protect neck. Bend knees and set feet on floor, heels as close to sitting bones as possible.
Exhale and, pressing inner feet and arms actively into floor, push tailbone upward toward pubis, firming (but not hardening) buttocks, and lift buttocks off floor. Keep thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp hands below pelvis and extend through arms to help stay on tops of shoulders.
Lift buttocks until thighs are about parallel to floor. Keep knees directly over heels, but push forward, away from hips, and lengthen tailbone toward backs of knees. Lift pubis toward navel.
Lift chin slightly away from sternum and, firming shoulder blades against back, press top of sternum toward chin. Firm outer arms, broaden shoulder blades, and try to lift space between them at the base of neck (where it’s resting on blanket) up into torso. Stay in pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling spine slowly down onto floor.