In the backbend ‘family of poses’, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) has been dubbed ‘a boon to mankind’ by the yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar. Apart from its capacity to wake up the senses, Setu Bandha strengthens the legs and hips, massages the spine, and opens the heart.
Holding this pose offers an opportunity to explore the body and its movements with attention and care. Along the way, the mind is calmed and the body becomes energised, leaving the practitioner feeling revitalised and refreshed.
For those who spend long hours stooped over their desk work and working on computers, the pose is an effective antidote to an overly kyphotic spine (dowager’s hump).
In the above image from Light on Yoga, Mr. Iyengar is actively performing the posture. But the beauty of Setu Bandhasana is that it can be done in a variety of ways using props, each version producing slightly different salutary effects.
Here’s a lovely ‘soft’ approach to the pose that uses props. Stay for 5 or 10 minutes just feeling your breath in the mid-sternum.
Samyama on the chest area and enquiry into the sensations felt there in different physical and mental states gives one the means to remain stable and calm even in very stressful situations.*
*Patanjali’s Yogasutras, translation and commentary by T.K.V. Desikachar.