How to Do Bridge Pose in Yoga (Guide to Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge Pose is a beloved yoga posture for those seeking either a restorative or active practice. Depending on how you support your body in this pose or the modifications you choose, Bridge Pose can strengthen the back and thighs, stimulate the glutes, open the chest, and stretch the shoulders, all at the same time.

“If you are struggling with thyroid imbalance, Bridge Pose is a wonderful way to stimulate this area of the body and bring balance to your endocrine system,” says Yoga Answered contributor Isabella Koepf. “By incorporating this yoga pose, either as a supported restorative posture or an active strengthening pose, you can radically transform your wellbeing, particularly your hormonal health.”

Bridge Pose Quick Look

Sanskrit Name: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Pose Type: Yoga Backbend Poses
Difficulty Level: Intermediate pose
Targets: gluteus muscles, hamstrings, spine, chest, neck, shoulders, abdomen, hip flexors, and feet
Benefits: Strengthens the back, thighs, and glutes, opens the chest and shoulders, stretches the hip flexors, alleviates stress and anxiety, activates the abdominal muscles, improves digestion, strengthens the feet and ankles, stimulates the thyroid, balances Vata dosha
Preparatory Poses: Cobra Pose, Upward-Facing Dog Pose, Sphinx Pose, Standing Backward Bend Pose, Cat Pose, and Cow Pose

How to Do Bridge Pose Step-By-Step

  1. Begin by lying down flat on your back in the center of your yoga mat with your arms resting by your sides.
  2. Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the ground, placing them as close to the base of your glutes as is comfortable.
  3. Gradually lift your hips upwards as you press into your feet, trying to bring your hips in line with your knees to create a straight line from your knees to your chest.
  4. Pull your shoulders towards each other and try to clasp your hands underneath your lower back, and straighten your arms to lift your chest towards your chin while you also tuck your chin towards your chest.
  5. Keep your glutes activated to protect and strengthen your lower back.
  6. Engage your inner thighs and try to lift your hips higher with every breath.
  7. To exit the pose, slowly release your clasped hands and bring them by your sides, untuck your shoulders, and lower your spine down onto the ground one vertebra at a time.

Beginner’s Tip

Avoid turning your head to the side, which can strain your neck and potentially cause an injury. If you feel any tension in your shoulders from clasping your hands, you can also rest your hands by your sides but ensure that you are still placing pressure on your shoulders and not on your neck.

After completing this pose, you may want to release any pressure from your lower back by doing a windshield wiper movement with your legs by dropping your knees from side to side. Another excellent follow-up yoga pose is a Supine Spinal Twist Pose (Supta Matsyendrasana) which can relieve any built-up tension in the spine.

For a restorative version of this pose, try placing a block underneath your sacrum and resting your hips down on the block to relax into a more nurturing version of this pose.

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