Setu bandhasana often called the bridge pose, is a restorative backbend and one of the best poses for counteracting all the sitting we do during the day. This pose helps to open up the chest and lungs, stretch the shoulders and neck, strengthen the back muscles, and lengthen the spine. It can also help to ease tension headaches, mild depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Please consult your doctor or physical therapist before practicing this pose if you have any serious back or neck issues.

How to Practice Setu Bandhasana

  1. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart. If your low back feels tight, place a rolled-up blanket under your knees for support.
  2. Place your arms by your sides with palms facing down.
  3. As you inhale, press into your feet and lift your hips toward the sky, coming into a gentle arch. Keep your thighs parallel to each other as you do this.
  4. Draw your shoulder blades together and open your chest as you lift your hips. Walk your hands underneath you and interlace your fingers below your sacrum (the triangular bone at the base of your spine).
  5. Hold here for 5-10 breaths, then release with an exhale as you slowly lower your hips back down to the ground.
  6. Repeat 2-3 times as desired.

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The bridge pose is a great way to stretch the front body after a long day of sitting or standing. It’s also a good way to prepare for deeper backbends like wheel pose (urdhva dhanurasana). Remember to practice mindfully, paying attention to any areas of tightness or discomfort in the body so that you can modify or come out of the pose as needed. Enjoy!