If you aim to slowly enter the backband poses, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) is certainly a pose that will safely prepare you to perform a more demanding poses within the backband asanas.
You will achieve this thanks to the fact that the bridge pose belongs to the basic backband poses, but also thanks to the large number of variations that this pose offers.
Consequently, this pose is also accessible to complete beginners in yoga; it is only important that you practice the variation that currently suits your psychophysical state.
You will see that the differences between these variations are very small. But however minimal the differences may be, the challenge that they pose to your body when you practice them causes your body to engage to other muscle groups.
Accordingly, we will draw your attention to not rushing to practice all the variations within the bridge pose that you will be introduced to in this article.
If, while practicing a certain variation, you feel that practicing that variation is a challenge for your body, come out of the pose very gently and return to practicing the variations that are currently correlated with your current psychophysical state.
A DEEPER INSIGHT
Bridge pose in Sanskrit basically consists of five words.
Setu means bridge, Bandha means to lock, Sarva means all, Anga means limb, and Asana means pose.
Essentially, while performing this pose, you are activating all of your bandhas.
Mula and Uddiyana bandha are also engaged in some other asanas at the same time. However, very rarely is the third bandha (Jalandhara bandha) engaged together with the first two bandhas during the performance of asanas.
Jalandara bandha is mainly practiced during certain breathing techniques. Bridge pose is one of the few poses where you activate all three of your bandhas.
Thanks to the large number of variations that this asana offers, the Bridge pose is practiced in different styles of yoga.
Accordingly, this pose is practiced not only within fully restorative styles but also within stronger, more challenging styles that require your body’s strength and a well-developed sense of balance.
While practicing this pose, you are activating and balancing your following chakras: Manipura, Vishuddha, Ajna, and Sahasrara.
Not just one element is attached to this pose, but several of them namely: thought, light, fire, and ether.
All of the variations in the rest of the article are listed in order of difficulty, so complete them in that order. You will acquire an insight into your progress in practicing this asana in a very straightforward manner.
Each variation begins with you lying on your back on a yoga mat and your chin resting on your sternum. You will activate the Jalandhara bandha in this manner.
Your feet should be hip-width apart while practicing each variation. Each variation starts with an inhalation and moves through three layers of breathing while still in the pose. With an exhalation, you will exit the pose by lowering your back to the yoga mat and returning to the starting position.
Try to stay in each variation for 30 to 60 seconds with no more than ten inhales and exhales.
Inhale to elevate your hips as high as you can while holding your ankles with your hands in the first variant. Your feet are firmly supported on the yoga mat. Be aware of your feet’s touch with the yoga mat through the heels, soles, and toes. It is important that most of your body weight be shifted to your feet and the rest to your shoulders. That is the case for all variations.
If you are unable to grasp your ankles, feel free to practice this variant with a yoga strap. In this scenario, the yoga strap is wrapped around your ankles and is held with your hands.
Practicing the second variation opens up your shoulder girdle and the space between your shoulder blades.
In the second variation, your feet are firmly planted on the yoga mat, your fingers are intertwined, and you stretch your arms forward while practicing this variation. You also lift your hips as high as possible.
By practicing the third variation, you will improve your current balance. In the third variation, you raise your heels and soles, resting only your toes on the yoga mat. The palms of your hands also rest on the yoga mat. In this way, you will have additional support.
Over time, by regularly practicing the third variation, you will be able to raise your hips to the highest possible point.
With the fourth variation, you strengthen your wrists and forearms.
When entering this variation, it is very important to rest the entire surface of your palms on your lower back. The fingers of your hands are turned toward the space. Try to keep your wrists positioned above your elbows. You must not allow your elbows to go into space.
Therefore, the correct position of the hands in this variation means that your wrists should be above your elbows, and your elbows should be in line with your shoulders.
In this variation, you can more easily become aware of the transfer of your body weight to your feet and the activation of your legs.
The fifth variation is challenging for most people that deal with back pain and stiffness. If you still want to try to practice this variation, you can try lowering the block since this is a variation where the block is in a full position.
Note that the block has three heights. You can try the first two heights.
In this variation, your palms are also resting on the yoga mat.
The moment you become comfortable with this variation, you will be able to focus your attention on transferring your weight to your feet and activating your legs.
The last variation of this asana is also the most challenging.
First, you can go into the first variation of the bridge pose. After entering, place your palms on the yoga mat and lift your left leg as high as possible. Try to raise it all the way to ninety degrees without bending it at the knee.
Among other benefits, by practicing the sixth variation, you are working on strengthening the muscles of your supporting leg while at the same time stretching the lifted leg. Also, you improve your current balance by practicing this variation.
After lifting your left leg, repeat it with your right leg.
Practicing Setu Bandha Sarvangasana has a great effect on your entire body.
By regularly practicing this asana, you will:
– Strengthen the muscles of your back, glutes, and legs
– Open your chest
– Stretch your entire spine and neck
– Open your shoulder girdle and the space between your shoulder blades
– Get rid of the fatigue that you feel in your back completely
– Improve circulation in your body
– Improve digestion
– Reduce the possible irregular functioning of your thyroid gland
– Establish a calm flow of thought
– Deal with stressful situations, depression, and anxiety easier
This asana is also advised for women to practice during menopause and menstrual cycle. It is also recommended for people who have problems with sinusitis, asthma, and osteoporosis.
If you’ve recently had an injury or surgery on your neck or back, our advice is to not do the Bridge pose until you’re fully recovered and get the green light from your doctor.
Considering the large number of variations that this asana offers, you should never overestimate the capabilities of your body and start practicing a variation that does not suit you at the moment.
Bear in mind that it is a static pose so you can stay for less than 30 seconds in the beginning if that period of time is challenging for you. We mentioned this because some people are psychophysically ready to do certain static poses completely, but they are currently unable to stay for the minimum recommended period of time.
In that case, those people are mostly faced with a lack of strength that they will definitely develop over time.
If you belong to that group, feel free to do the variations that you find you can do. The only thing that you will modify in that case is the time period for staying in the variation itself.