I learned setu bandhasana in my very first yoga class EVER.
It was a revelation to me back then to think of my spine as a string of pearls lifting one by one as I pressed my feet into the mat. My spine was badly compressed at that point from various childhood injuries so I couldn’t feel much articulation between each bone, like the teacher was instructing.
But each day it got a little easier until I could feel a new and unusual (at least for me) sense of fluidity in my spine.
To this day setu bandhasana is my go-to pose whenever my back is feeling stiff. It’s nearly always part of my practice when I have any low-back pain or have a client who has back complaints.
So it’s with quite a bit of fondness and appreciation that we’re featuring setu bandhasana (sometimes called ‘suspended bridge’) this week.
“You’re only as young as your spine.”
~ Ancient Yogi Wisdom
Because the back is supported by the floor in this pose initially, the preparation encourages the back muscles to relax at first. And because the lifting is initiated by the pressure down through the feet (a great example of ‘root down to rise up’) and an engagement of the deep core muscles that elongates the tailbone towards the feet, the back can stay relaxed all the way up to the point where a backside engagement becomes necessary.
It’s at that point that the pose begins to gently strengthen the back muscles in a way that doesn’t overwork or compromise them.
Those with shoulder tightness will find this pose challenging at first so it might be helpful to use a strap around the upper arms, although this can be awkward in the set-up stage when the hips are still on the ground. Holding a strap in the hands underneath the body might feel better, in that case.
Those with super-tight quadriceps will need to put extra effort into keeping the tailbone moving down towards the feet so the low-back doesn’t compress too much. Shorten the hold for those folks, OR work to lengthen the quads before doing this pose.
Below are some additional details of this pose…as usual, download this tip sheet at the bottom of this post.
asana name = setu bandhasana
- setu = dam or bridge
- bandha = lock
- asana = seat
- Builds strength in legs, arms, back and core.
- Stimulates the thyroid glands and lungs.
- Massages abdominal organs.
- Stretches chest, spine and neck.
- Stimulates 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th chakras.
- Reduces anxiety and backache, calming the nervous system and alleviating insomnia.
- Good for asthma and high blood pressure.
- Neck or knee injury.
- Late-term pregnancy.
- Rest sacrum on block or bolster.
- Deep chest opener: walk arms under body, interlace fingers, walk upper arms towards one another and press arms into mat, increasing the lift of the body.
- Expansive possibilities
Conclusion: Setu bandhasana
Keep this pose in mind for those moments when you need an excellent backside strengthener that’s gentle on the spine. It’s easily accessed by most students and can work out the kinks in the main conduit of energy of your body.
What you can do next
- We’d love to have your reflections on setu bandhasana. Post us a comment below…mahalo!
- Get your free asana tip sheet by clicking the button below.
- If you’re missing a few of these tip sheets from your personal collection, click here to get our ebook containing the first 30 at a super-reasonable price.