Bridge Pose  -Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Step by step

  • Lie on your back with your arms next to the body, palms down.
  • Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, heels close to the buttocks, hip width apart.
  • With the feet parallel to each other, press the upper arms into the floor, press your feet into the floor (inside and outside equally) and begin to lift the hips up to the ceiling, moving your breastbone to the chin, but not the chin to the breastbone. 
Lift your chin slightly to keep space under the back of the neck. 
  • Lengthen your tailbone
  • Actively bring the knees out in front of you to keep the lower back extended. Keep the knees above the ankles.
  • Your buttocks are firm but not clenched.
 Your hips are lifted as high as is available to you with these principles in place. 

  • Clasp your hands behind the back and firm the arms into the floor, shoulder blades are down along the spine. 
  • You can take between 5 and 15 breaths in this pose.

  • To come out, release the arms and lower the hips down to the floor on an out-breath.

Beginners tips

  • Pay close attention to your knees, don't allow them to splay wider than your feet as you rise upwards. If you find this happens you can squeeze a yoga block between your thighs as you come up.
  • Try interlacing your hands and stretching them down towards your feet. It can help stabilise your pose and it's a nice extra stretch on the shoulders.

Benefits

  • Opens the chest
  • Mobilizes the spine.
  • Strengthens legs, glutes and upper back.

Watch out for

  • Your neck - as your raise up higher make sure you don't flatten the back of the neck into the ground. If you have a neck injury avoid this pose unless you are being supervised by a professional.
  • Your feet - make sure your feet are parallel with each other and try not to let your knees fall away from each other.

Variations

  • Roll your spine - you can come out of the pose by slowly coming down, vertebrae by vertabrae. Allow the spine to slowly roll its way down. You can come up again into the pose the same way. This is a lovely 'spine massage'.
  • If you start to feel comfortable in this pose try relaxing the buttocks and keep the thighs engaged and lift the hips up higher.
  • You can lift one leg straight up to the ceiling.
  • If you want to make the pose more restorative, place a support like a yoga block or folded towel under your sacrum (just above your tailbone) and let your weight rest on the support.