Bridge Pose or Setu Bandhasana
To put in perspective, long working hours and prolonged state of idleness or laziness have led to one of the biggest health distress of this age – the dreadful back pain. Back issues arise due to a host of factors, but it is usually the wrong posture or lack of exercises that may trigger the cause.
Setu Bandhasana is also popularly known as the Bridge Pose. It gets it’s s name from the Sanskrit words ‘Setu’, which means ‘Bridge’, and ‘Bandha’, which means ‘to lock’. This pose resembles the structure of a bridge, and therefore, it is named in that particular way. This pose stretches your back, neck, and chest and relaxes your body and brings about increased relaxation, mental calm, and a sense of rejuvenation.
The Bridge Pose is performed right after the Plow pose, as a counter place for the lumber and thoracic regions of the spine. This asana enhances all the benefits of the Shoulder stand and the Plow Pose combined.
Many yoga practitioners view Bridge Pose as a way to bridge the gap between the body and the mind. It is also a reminder of the opportunity to cross over from one place to another. Moreover, the bridge acts as a connection between two different places, which can be physical, spiritual, or psychological. It is a pose, that activates and opens up your body and mind. It is also known to be a beginner’s backbend yoga posture.
How to do Setu bandhasana (The Bridge Pose)
Basic Instructions for Beginners:
Start the bridge pose by lying flat on your back while your arms are on your side.
Bend both your knees and bring your feet flat on the floor close to the buttocks.
- Legs should be wide apart.
- Arms should be on the floor along the body with palms facing downwards.
- Make sure that your ankles and knees are placed in a straight line.
While you inhale lift your hips, and bring your hands onto the back in the same position as they were during the shoulder stand (your fingers are pointed towards your spine and thumbs are up against the body).
Let your shoulders, feet, and arms to support your weight.
Note: Feet should be as parallel as possible. Make sure your feet or knees are not bowing outwards.
Keep the head and shoulders on the floor. Try and raise your hips as much as comfortable possible. This is so that it makes a nice arch to the upper back as well.
Do keep your buttocks firm and tight as you lift yourself up from the floor. Also, make sure your thighs are parallel to each other and the floor.
Hold the bridge pose for at least 30 seconds and keep inhaling and exhaling deeply while you do so. Then, exhale out and release your hands, lower your back and return to the relaxation position.
Basic Instructions for Intermediate:
After you hold yourself in the plow position go to the shoulder stand.
While in shoulder stand bend both your knees. While keeping your hands at the same position lower one foot at a time on the floor behind the back – opposite side of the body as in Plow position. Once you start supporting yourself with your hands in the shoulder stand you can drop into a Bridge pose -using both legs at the same time.
The hands keep supporting the back. Bring both feet flat on the floor with hips as high as possible. Both your shoulder and head remain on the floor. You can stay in this position from 30 seconds and can progress to 1 minute.
Variation for Advanced Learners:
Make sure your knees are straight. Avoid lowering your hip to so that your legs become straight. If you are a beginner you could keep your knees bent.
Return to the shoulder stand position as you inhale deeply while you kick one leg upwards followed by the other. Bring both your feet halfway down and gradually roll out of the shoulder stand.
What is the best time to do the Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)?
Ideally, this asana must be done when your bowels and stomach are absolutely empty. Also, it is very important to eat your meals at least 4 to 6 hours before your yoga practice. The reason being that your food will be digested, and there will be enough energy to expand.
Even though morning is the best time to practice the Bridge pose but if you are unable to do so, then, you can practice it in the evening as well.
MODIFICATIONS FOR THE BRIDGE POSE
If you find it difficult to balance your body on your hands then, you can practice this pose with the help of props to make it easier. Such as:
- Place a bolster or block under your pelvis for a more restorative version that will help you to release your lower back and can also help to ease menstrual cramps and discomfort.
- Fold a blanket and place it under your shoulders for extra cushion and support.
The Science behind the Bridge Pose
When you practice the Bridge pose, you are lifting your body up with only your head and shoulders on the ground, this accelerates and increases the blood and oxygen flow to your brain via the spine. And that is why it is beneficial for both. Therefore, it is one of the best poses to keep your spine and brain healthy and flexible.
Benefits of Setu bandhasana (The Bridge Pose)
A modern lifestyle, in most cases, is sedentary. Many of us belong to a corporate field and get so caught up with the work that we forget to indulge in any physical activity. We are constantly glued to our computers and office chairs.
Medical evidence time and again shows the ill effects of long working hours and prolonged sitting and what it does to our health and well-being.
Therefore to heal yourself from this pain, the bridge pose works as an excellent exercise for strengthening the back. It also eases the pent up tension in the back muscles.
Besides that, Setu Bandhasana has numerous benefits that have an effect on the entire body and mind.
- It relieves pressure from the cervical region.
- Stretches the back, chest, neck, and spine. Thus, providing relief for painful backaches.
- Strengthens the abdominal and lumbar muscles.
- Promotes suppleness to the spine and wrists.
- Helps to regulate the functioning of the liver and spleen.
- It deactivates hormones, drugs, and toxins in the body.
- Regulates blood sugar levels.
- Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid glands.
- It improves digestion and helps to digest fat.
- It helps relieve the symptoms of menopause in women.
- This asana helps to relieve menstrual discomfort when practiced with support.
- Provides therapeutic aid especially for those suffering from asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.
- Calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression.
- Reduces anxiety, fatigue, headache, and insomnia. As a result, leading to a good sound sleep.
- Removes sluggishness from the body and eliminates the dullness of the mind.
- It aids in treating mood swings as well.
- It encourages transformation.
- Do not change your hand position in the process of doing the bridge pose as it could lead to a strain in your thumbs.
- Refrain from lifting your shoulders off the ground.
- Do not lower your hips and walk the feet away from the body.
- Do not clench your butt cheeks or push your inner groins toward the ceiling, as this could strain your lower back.
- Don’t let your feet turn outwards. Instead, keep the outer edges of your feet parallel to the outer edges of your mat.
Who should avoid doing Setu Bandhasana?
- If you have back and neck injuries, you should attempt Bridge Pose only after consulting a physician.
- If you have lower back problems; you must only perform this asana under a yoga expert’s supervision.
- Avoid performing this asana during menstruation or pregnancy.
The Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) is a fairly simple asana that offers an array of benefits, owing to the stretching of almost the entire body. Therefore, adding this asana to your usual workout regimen will strengthen your body and in particular your back. It will expand your chest illuminating you with heaps of energy.
Therefore, it’s time to become the best version of yourself and achieve your personal goals with the help of yoga.