Eve lying on a bolster in a yoga pose called Setu Banda Sarvangasana

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana: Low Back First Aid

I find Setu Bandha Sarvangasana an invaluable pose for the way it helps counteract low back compression. In my world, lower back ache is a result of gardening, long drives or sitting at my computer.

Part of why the pose is so good for my lower back and sacrum is because it stretches the abdomen, a part of my body that tenses when my back is tight. That has got to be good for my digestive organs, too.

Another great advantage to the supported bridge pose is that it is soothing to the nervous system. You know how tense you feel when your back has been sore for some time? This pose fosters calm, as well as helping reduce nervous exhaustion.

And just in case you aren’t yet enrolled in Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, here are a few more benefits:

  • It opens your chest, lungs and shoulders.
  • It rests your heart.
  • And, it relieves eye or ear problems and headaches.

Here’s How to Do It

Props needed: one bolster, and an extra bolster or block, if needed.

  • Lie down with your hips and spine on bolster.
  • Adjust the bolster so that the bottom tips of your shoulder blades drape over the edge of the bolster and your shoulders rest on the floor.
  • Place your feet on a bolster or a block.
  • Relax your arms, letting them rest on the floor with your elbows bent.
  • Close your eyes and stay for 5 minutes or more.
  • If there’s any discomfort in your lower back, try tucking your buttocks under and/or raising your feet a little.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is a pose that the late B.K.S. often extolled. He described it as ‘a boon to mankind’. In my experience, the pose helps with a sore back and stiff sacrum. But even more importantly, it’s an antidote for the pressures and pace of modern life. 

Here’s a version of Setu Bandhasana that I like to do with a bolster, blanket and block: