BRIDGE POSE or SETU BANDHA SARVANGASANA is a great posture for opening your shoulders and chest, a nice posture to practice to counteract forward bends …. but really, it can be whatever you need it to be —energizing, rejuvenating, or luxuriously restorative. “Setu” is the Sanskrit for a bridge, “bandha” for a lock, “sarva” means all and “anga” means limb. So, in Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, all your limbs are working to form a bridge with your body. This pose stretches the chest, neck and spine whilst stimulating the abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid. It is great for rejuvenating tired legs. It calms the mind and helps to alleviate stress and mild depression. It reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache and insomnia. It improves digestion and is therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and sinusitis.
- Lie with your back flat on the floor, bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, hip-width apart, heels directly under your knees and as close to the sitting bones as possible. Leave your upper arms on the floor and bend your elbows alongside your ribs, pointing your forearms and fingers towards the ceiling. Turn your palms to face one another.
- Press your elbows and shoulder blades down into the floor, lift your chest, and bring your shoulder blades onto your upper back, wrapping your outer arms towards the floor. Keep your gaze straight up.
- Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
- Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.
- Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck up into the torso.
- Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.