BRIDGE – SETU BANDHA SARVANGASANA
Bridge pose, from the Sanskrit Setu “bridge”, sarva “all”, and anga “limb”, is functional to a multiplicity of purposes: either as a warm-up to prepare to Wheel Pose or as a cool-down before a shoulder stand. In fact, you can notice it’s a mix of the two: a half bridge in which all you limbs (anaga), shoulders included, lay on the floor.
Adjust your arch depending on the purpose you are looking for and enjoy it!
- Lie on the floor in supine position, then bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor with your heels close to your sitting bones.
- Engage your glutes and inhaling, pressure your feet on the ground and pull your buttocks up, detaching them from the floor. In doing this, you should try to keep your core active while pushing your tailbone towards the pubis and the latter towards the navel. It is very important that your thighs and feet stay parallel to each other!
- Clasp your hands under your bridge and straighten your arms resting them the floor. This will also help you holding the pose. Try to broaden your shoulder blades, moving them toward the lower back.
Relax your throat, trying to detach your chin from the sternum.
Hold the pose for at least five complete breathe cycles, then roll your spine down on an exhale.
- You can place a blanket under your shoulders if you feel too much pressure on them.
- If you feel at ease instead, lift you heels from the floor and tighten your spine arch. Try to maintain it as your heels go back on earth.
- You can even detach one leg off the floor and point it upwards, vertical to the ground. In this case you have the option of placing your hands at your waist to help sustaining your bodyweight. This variation is called Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (One-legged Bridge).
BENEFITS AND SYMBOLIC MEANING
Bridge pose focuses on the opening on the thoracic spine, giving you a sense of openness at the level of your Heart, where Anahata, the Chakra connected to our emotions, is located. This extroversion is beneficial to alleviate stress and mild depression.
Back to the physical level, the asana can strengthen your back leg: hamstrings, glutes and back muscles, while providing a good stretch of the hip flexors and upper body. Bending your spine mildly is beneficial to stimulating the activity and massage the abdominal organs, which can be beneficial for your digestion.
Lifting the body while your head rests on the floor instead, encourages blood pressure to flow to your upper body, which is helpful to relax and free your mind. The slight inversion is also useful to reduce high blood pressure and to alleviate headaches, backaches, insomnia, fatigue and –last but not least, for women- menstrual discomfort and the symptoms of menopause.