May Yoga Pose of the Month — Bridge Pose
Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal, which means your yoga practice this time of year should be stimulating and invigorating. The physical body needs to release and detoxify stored heaviness from those long winter months, making space to align with the Earth’s expansive energy.
Back bending is a great way to change your perspective — and your mood. The beautiful thing about bridge pose (one of our all-time favorite backbends) is that it can be whatever you need it to be — energizing, rejuvenating, or deeply restorative.
Philosophy & Origin
Bridge pose, known as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana in Sanskrit, is named for its physical shape. Pronounced: SET-too BAHN-dah
“Setu” = Bridge, dam, or dike / “Bandha” = Lock / “Asana” = Pose
By forming a bridge with your body, you create a structure that symbolizes a connection between two different places. Bridge pose invites transformation — a way to get from where you are to where you want to be.
Bridge Pose: Step-By-Step
Begin by lying flat on your back, arms extended by your sides, palms face down. Bend your knees and set the soles of your feet on the floor, bringing your heels close to your sitting bones.
On an exhale, press your feet and arms actively into the ground. Push your tailbone upward toward the sky, lifting your buttocks away from the floor. As you lift, keep your thighs and inner feet parallel to one another.
Optional: If you’d like to deepen the pose, clasp your hands together below your pelvis and reach your knuckles toward your heels. Push your knees forward, away from your hips, and lift your bellybutton to the sky.
Breathing smoothly, continue to firm down through your feet so your thighs are parallel to the floor.
Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Exhale as you release, rolling your spine slowly down onto the floor.
Adjustments & Modifications
- Help protect your neck by placing a folded blanket under your shoulders.
- Place a block or bolster under your pelvis for a more restorative version of the pose.
- For a greater challenge, try adding single leg lifts or an exercise ball under your feet.
Pay attention to alignment. Make sure your knees stay stacked over your ankles, hip-width apart. It may be tempting to scoot your heels back closer to your body to find more lift, but doing so can cause knee strain.
Don’t clench your buttocks. Clenching can strain the low back. Instead, align your inner knees with one another and spin your inner thighs down toward the floor.
Make sure there is space between your chin and your neck. This will keep your neck relaxed and your airway clear.
Do not move your head. Doing so can cause neck injury.
Bridge pose is a chance to create balance by moving in a way that is the complete opposite of how we spend most of our days — sitting at desks, hunched over computer screens, leaning forward while driving. And while backbends (like all new things) can sometimes feel scary, remember that breaking through the fear that holds you back is the only way to discover the bravery and confidence you’ll find on the other side.
See Also: Truth in Tree Pose