Yoga Practice as Process - Setu Bhandasana (Bridge Pose)

Setu Bandhasana – Bridge Pose. An accesible supine backbend where the cervical and upper thoracic are in flexion and the lower thoracic and lumbar are in extension.

Vinyasa – While the held variation of this pose is typically called Setu Bandhasana, the Vinyasa for this pose is called Dwi Pada Pitham, two-legged table pose. The many variations one can choose with regards to foot and arm placement will be explored in future posts. For now, try starting with the feet at a comfortable width apart with the heels placed approximately under the knee and the arms alongside the body.  Once you have the feet in place, give yourself the opportunity to take a few breaths to feel the connection between your body with the floor.

To enter the pose, ensure that the heel, outer edge of the sole of the foot and the big toe are rooted on the ground and use your inhale to begin to lift the seat off the floor while simultaneously lifting the arms up and overhead. As you exhale, gradually lower the arms while rolling the spine back down until the seat is on the floor. If you would like to refine this process a bit further you can try to have both the hands and the seat touch the ground at approximately the same time. Repeat this process with smooth, even and soft breathing 4 to 8 times, inviting the body to gradually release and open.

Support – Please ensure that the neck and lower back feel supported, without pain. If your lower back feels tight or you are tired, I suggest placing a block underneath the sacrum for additional support.

Balancing or Counter-poses – Upon finishing a set of this pose, try placing the soles of the feet on the ground towards the outer quarter of the mat with the toes turned in and the heels turned out. Then gently draw the knees together until they touch. Spend a few breaths here following the movements of the belly as you breathe in and out. From here, you can repeat the Vinyasa just explored, hold the pose in Setu Bandhasana or transition to Apanasana (a gentle drawing of the thighs towards the stomach while reclining).