(Setu Bandha Sarvangasana): Techniques, Benefits, Variations

Level – Beginner

Bridge Pose

(Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge Pose Prep & Practice

1

Beginning on the back with knees bent, feet flat on the mat. Bring feet parallel, hip-width apart, and as close to the seat as possible. Feet, ankles, and knees in line. Arms by sides, palms down, fingertips pointing toward heels. Shoulders firm in and down, heart and chest spread and soften.

2

On an inhalation, press through feet lifting hips. Inner thighs and buttocks firm (not clenched), low abs firm in and up, sides of waist lengthen evenly from hips to the ribcage.

3

Inner thighs draw toward each other, tailbone lengthens toward heels, pubic bone draws forward. Chest broadens as shoulder blades draw in and down. Arms external rotate energetically, fingers spread wide.

4

Shoulders, arms, and hands press down into the mat, lifting and spreading through the chest. Throat and jaw relaxed, breath is steady

5

To come out of the pose, on an exhalation, gently lower back down onto the mat. Rest with feet mat width apart, knees falling in to touch.

Variations/Modifications

  • Block between thighs 
  • Hands clasped underneath low back
  • Blanket under head to keep arch in cervical spine
  • Block under sacrum (Restorative)

Physical, Mental and Emotional Benefits

  • Strengthens entire body
  • Increases breathing and lung capacity
  • Lengthens core muscles
  • Stimulates endocrine and nervous system
  • Opens the heart

Contraindications

  • Spinal Conditions
  • Back, Shoulder or Neck Injuries

Thoughtful Sequencing

Bridge Prep (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), lift and lower hips 5-10 times. Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana), hold 3-5 breaths, exhaling to release and rest. Reclined Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana), Wind Relieving Pose (Pavanamuktasana), Corpse Pose (Savasana)

A Few Notes

Bridge pose is great for strengthening the core and opening the front body. There are tons of modifications that you can use to make it more comfortable for you. When you’re getting into this yoga pose, remember to

  • keep your feet flat and hip-width apart
  • press down into the outer edges of your feet
  • pull your shoulder blades toward one another, clasping your hands underneath your body to help
  • lift the hips upwards, using your glutes and core muscles to keep them lifted
  • keep your knees in line with your hips, using a block between your knees if you need a reminder

What is bridge pose good for?

Setu Bandha sarvangasana bridge pose opens the front body and strengthens the core and glutes. It is a good exercise to open the hips as it develops muscle definition and flexibility in the hips. It also strengthens the leg muscles and you pull your inner thighs toward one another while keeping both feet flat on the ground. It is one of many heart-opening yoga poses and is a good precursor for backbends.

How long should you hold the bridge pose?

In traditional Tantra yoga, you should hold the pose for a minimum of 2 minutes, upwards of 5 minutes. In a modern Hatha yoga class, you might hold the pose for 5 breaths. Depending on your own yoga practice, you can incorporate this pose into your flow for 2 to 5 breaths.

Does bridge pose reduce belly fat?

Setu bandha sarvangasana strengthens the core, which helps burn belly fat when combined with other healthy lifestyle choices. Excess fat comes for a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits, so you cannot reduce belly fat simply by practicing a single yoga pose. However, if you work this posture into your daily practice, you will build core strength, which will help reduce belly fat by way of increasing overall muscle mass.

Want more yoga pose tutorials? See more in my Yoga Pose Directory.

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