I’ve Fallen for Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

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Can you be addicted to a yoga pose?

I’m not really sure of the answer. If yes, then Supported Bridge just may be my downfall. I love this pose. There is one particular yoga class that I go to and without fail we practice Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. I look forward to it, expect it and would probably be quite disappointed if one day we suddenly skipped it!

Supported Bridge is a version of Bridge Pose where you use a block or bolster underneath your lower back to support the spine. It is a pose I turn to when I am feeling low on energy (and pretty much any time I can slip it in …) I find it very relaxing yet it also leaves me feeling rejuvenated.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana makes use of gravity to open the front of the body. It is wonderfully restorative but also provides a great stretch. The spine is supported throughout the posture allowing for a deep but gentle backbend.

Once you are properly aligned with the yoga block correctly positioned, you will be able to hold the pose for quite some time. This allows your body time to really experience the benefits of the posture while your mind also has an opportunity for stillness.

Benefits

There are so many benefits to be gained from the practice of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. I have listed some of the significant ones below:

  • Stretches and opens the chest and spine.
  • Strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system.
  • Helps to relieve stress and mild depression.
  • Improves digestion and stimulates the abdominal organs.
  • Improves quality of sleep and combat insomnia.
  • Stimulates the thyroid gland.
  • Release discomfort due to menstrual cramps.
  • Reduces anxiety, headache and fatigue.
  • Great remedy for lower back pain or weakness.
  • Stretches the spine from your tailbone all the way to your shoulders.

Directions

Have a yoga block nearby.

Lie back on the floor or with your knees bent and your feet flat. Bring your heels towards your buttocks. Feet should be parallel and about hip width apart.

Press through the soles of your feet and curl your tailbone up lifting your hips towards the ceiling.

Slide the yoga block underneath your lower back so that it rests under your sacrum.  Lower your hips to the block allowing it to support your weight.

Arms rest alongside your body, hands extending towards the heels. Chin is slightly tucked. Shoulders are rolled under.

You should feel comfortable in this position and be able to rest here for several minutes.

To come out of the pose, press into your feet and lift your hips. Remove the yoga block. Slowly and gently begin to uncurl your spine lowering to the ground vertebrae by vertebrae.

Hug your knees into your chest and rock gently from side to side to massage the lower back.

Tips

When first trying this pose, start with the block on the lowest level. If this feels quite comfortable you may try turning it to a higher level. This pose is restorative so choose the height that is comfortable and that you can sustain for several minutes. Do not stay in the posture if you feel any pain.

Focus on your breath. With each inhalation, feel your chest opening. On each exhalation, relax your weight into the block feeling completely supported.

Advanced Options

After you have been practicing this for awhile, try the following variations to deepen the pose. Lift one leg at a time off of the floor while keeping the block in place. This is called  Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (One Legged Bridge). You can also lift both legs at the same time to come into a supported version of Shoulder Stand.

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