Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
January’s pose of the month is Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, otherwise known as Bridge. It seemed a fitting pose as we transition from one year into the next.
Back bends open us up at the heart center, untying the knots around our hearts. Often times, we knowingly or unknowingly place a barrier around our own hearts to protect us from future hurt. Back bends help us free ourselves from these imposed fears. They enable us to move toward bravery, trust and being open to our future. As we open our hearts, we increase our capacity to give and receive love — including to ourselves.
I often do bridge pose just before an inversion. Inversions give you a chance to change your perspective. Therefore fittingly, our January pose can be your lead up to the changes you would like to affirm in your life as we start the New Year.
In yoga, we believe that the body, mind and spirit are linked. Therefore, as you do the physical practice, you are affecting your emotional side as well.
Physically, bridge pose opens the chest, stretching the pectorals. Tight pectorals can lead to rounding shoulders and rounding of the entire upper back. This effects our posture and how we carry ourselves in the world. This pose releases tension throughout the entire back body. Bridge is safer and more accessible than other back bending poses and available for all levels. There are also many ways to use props in this pose.
Bridge pose strengthens legs and gluts — our foundation, our base. We stretch hip flexors where we carry so much tensions. With so much sitting that we do in our lives, our hip flexors are often in the opposite position. They have been referred to as the most neglected muscle in our body. It is so important to open these up and keep these flexible as the hip flexors are responsible for so many or our daily functions.
How to do this pose? Before attempting the pose, you will need to warm up. Practice cat/cows, sun salutes, cobras and salabasana in the warm up. Also practice internal rotation and strengthening of the legs. Chair pose and table top are good.
To access Setu Bandhu Sarvangasana, lie on your back. Place your feet right behind your hips, hip distance apart and parallel (not turned out). Knees are pointed up to the sky (not outward) just over the ankles. Arms are alongside the body. Start to lift your hips, as your back lifts off the ground, inch your upper arms in toward each other. This will help get that one vertebrae that pokes out (C7) up off the ground. Spiral inner thighs down as you draw the tailbone to your knees. Lift shoulder blades up and spread the collarbones. Press upper arms into the floor.