Bridge
SETU BANDHA SARVĀŃGĀSANA (सेतु बन्ध सर्वाङ्गासन)
(set-uu bahn-dah SAR-vanh-GAH-sah-nah)

 


‘Setu’= bridge or dam, ‘Bandha’= formation, lock, or bind, ‘Sarvāṅga’= entire body or all limb,
‘āsana’= posture


Alternate Names

Bridge Lock Posture (Setu Bandhāsana)

Half Wheel
Shoulder Pose
Shoulder Supported Bridge Pose
Two-Legged Table (Dwi Pada Pitham)
Bridge Lock all Limb

Difficulty Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Pose Type: Back-Bend / Stretch / Supine / Balance / Hip Opener / Inversion

1. Start in Corpse Pose (Savasana), except with your palms face down on the mat by your sides (Supine position).
2. Bend your knees and tighten your quadriceps to bring your heels back toward your buttock. Make sure that your knees are hip distance apart and that your knees are stacked over your ankles.
3. Keep your hands by your sides with your fingertips pointing in the same direction as your heels.
4. Ground your feet by pressing them into the mat as you prepare to engage your core and thighs to begin lifting your hips and back off the mat.
5. As you lift your hips, extend your back and draw your shoulder blades in. Keep your neck in line with your spine but be sure to keep your neck soft. Tuck your chin in slightly toward your chest.
6. Continue lifting as you tighten your pelvic muscles, inner thighs, and abdomen to push your hips towards the sky. This lengthens your tailbone and extends it in the direction of the knees and pelvis.
7. Make sure that your knees are still stacked over your ankles and then press into your arms and shoulders to anchor your shoulders to the mat.
8. Lift your sternum and open your chest to lengthening the back of your neck as you breathe deeply into this pose. Hold this pose for several breaths (at least 20 seconds to build strength).
9. When ready, slowly release the hips and lower the spine back down. Let the legs straighten and extend out and back into Corpse Pose (Savasana).

Common Adjustments
• Neck strained
• Chin closing off the throat
• Chest sunken between shoulders
• Knees not stacked over ankles
• Feet not hip distance apart and grounded
• Shoulders not grounded
• Compression in lower back
• Hips are not higher than the chest

Modifications
• For students with lower back injuries or pain, place a folded blanket, bolster, or block under the lower back to elevate the hips and support the weight. This is also good for students during early pregnancy.
• To avoid stress in the neck and upper spine, place a blanket or bolster below the shoulders.
• To build back strength, and help with balance, you can either: a) place the hands just below the hips with elbows on the ground supporting the back (you can also add blocks under the feet if needed), b) place a cushioned chair or a chair with a blanket on it under the lower back, c) use blocks or a bolster under the lower back, d) place blankets under the mid to lower back and knees and place the feet on blocks or e) place a long and low bench under the back and feet with a blanket or bolster to cushion the bench and support the shoulders and neck (you can also place straps around the legs with this version if needed to keep them together). To avoid neck injury, assist students with props.
• To help increase leg strength and prevent slipping, students can practice with their feet close to a wall, which also gives the knees support. You can also use a strap to help keep the legs together.
• For advanced students, they can grab their hands together in Venus Lock, Bear Grip, or Jupiter Mudra. They can also grab their ankles. Students with shoulder and wrist injuries however should keep their arms by their sides with the palms faced down.

Counter Poses
• Rabbit / Hare (Sasangasana)
• Corpse (Savasana)
• Cobra (Bhujangasana)
• Plow (Halasana)
• Knees to Chest (Apanasana)
• Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
• Forward Bend, Seated (Paschimottanasana)
• Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
• Reclining Big Toe Hold (Supta Padangusthasana)
• Waterfall Pose or Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
• Supine Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
• Shoulder Stand (Sarvangasana)
• Shoulder Stand, Supported (Salamba Sarvangasana)

Anatomy
• Neck• Chest (Pectoralis Major and Minor)
• Shoulders (Deltoids)• Triceps and Biceps
• Abdomen (Core) and Obliques• Upper (Cervical) and Lower (Lumbar) Back and Spine
• Hips (Iliopsoas and Psoas Major and Minor)• Gluteus Maximus
• Quadriceps and Hamstrings• Calf muscles and Ankles

Benefits
• Stretches the chest, back / spine and shoulders as well as strengthens the neck, back, abdominal muscles, spine, hips, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, calf muscles, knees, and ankles. By strengthening these areas, posture and alignment can improve, your legs will be energized, and it can help relieve backaches, lower back tightness, and neck strain. This can also be therapeutic for students with osteoporosis.
• Helps to prevent arterial blockages, fluctuating blood pressure, mild depression, and hypertension by resting the heart muscles and expanding the chest. This increases lung capacity and is calming for the brain. Opening and expanding the chest also helps improve function of the thyroid and parathyroid glands and is therapeutic for students with asthma or sinusitis.
• Relieves anxiety, fear, migraines / stress related headaches, insomnia / nervous exhaustion, fatigue, and reduces stress by loosening the muscles, increasing circulation, calming the nervous system and concentrating to hold the pose. This also energizes the brain and mind by bringing blood to the brain.
• Relaxes the elbows.
• Increases blood flow, which stimulates the endocrine system, and improves digestion. Massages and strengthens the internal organs in the abdomen. It also helps relieve menopausal discomfort, menstrual discomfort (with modifications), and can help rest the legs to prevent varicose veins.
• Lengthens the spine and increases flexibility, while keeping the nervous system healthy.

Contraindications
1. Students with recent or chronic injury to the lower back, knees, or shoulders should avoid this pose.
2. Students that have a severe neck injury (like spondylitis), severe migraines, lower back injury, severe back pain, a weak back, stomach ulcers, a hernia, recent abdominal surgery, constipation, diarrhea, has a weak stomach or intestines, are in their menstrual cycle, or are pregnant (after the second trimester) should avoid this pose due to pressure on the neck, core, and abdomen.
3. If the student has high blood pressure, they should use caution in this pose.
4. Although this posture can be beneficial for the knees, if you have had a knee replacement or a severe case of osteoporosis you should avoid this posture.

Chakras
Chakra Three:Solar Plexus, Self-Power, or Manipura (lustrous gem) Chakra. This is the combustion, power, and energy chakra. Its goals are vitality, strength of will, and purpose. Its location is the solar plexus.
Chakra Four:Heart, Love, or Anahata (Unstuck) Chakra. This is the love and equilibrium chakra. Its goals are balance, compassion, and acceptance. Its location is the heart.
Chakra Five:Throat, Visuddha, Vissudha, Vishuddhi, or Vishuddha (purification) Chakra. This is the communications and sympathetic vibrations chakra. Its goals are clear communication, creativity, and resonance. Its location is the throat.
Chakra Six:Third-Eye or Ajna (to perceive) Chakra. This is the intuition and projection chakra. Its goals are psychic perception and imagination. Its location is the brow.



Additional information on this asana can be found in your textbooks

  • In the textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini, this posture can be found in Chapter 9 – Supine and Prone Postures as “Setu Bandhasana – Bridge Pose”.
    • Watch the Chapter 9 video “Setu Bandhasana” found in the Web Resources that come with your textbook “Instructing Hatha Yoga – 2nd Edition With Web Resource” by: Diane M. Ambrosini. This video gives you an additional example of how to practice this asana.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, this posture can be found in Chapter 11 – SUPINE POSES under “SETU BANDHASANA VARIATION” as “DWI PADA PITHAM – Two-Legged Table”.
  • In the textbook “YOGA Anatomy – Third Edition” by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthew, a variation of this posture can be found in Chapter 11 – SUPINE POSES under “SETU BANDHASANA – Bridge Pose”. **This textbook shows a slight variation where the hands are on the lower back (instead of palms down on the floor).

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