Backward Bends

Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose) on high blocks

Bridge Pose variation
Level: All Levels

Setu = bridge. Bandha = Lock or restraint, refers to a pose where certain organs or body parts are contracted or controlled.

To protect the neck and to give more lift to the back and openness to the chest, you can do the pose with a folded blanket or two across the tops of the shoulders as shown above. Stack the block or blocks up to a height appropriate to your proportions and the openness of your body. The idea is for the pelvis to feel lifted and the hip creases open without the lower back being crunched.

Organizing the Pose

  1. Lie flat on the back with the blankets under the shoulders.
  2. Bend the knees and place the feet flat on the floor close to the hips.
  3. Lift the hips a little bit off the floor and place a block or blocks under the sacrum.
  4. Roll the shoulders down into the floor and widen the collarbones.
  5. Put a shoulder-width belt around the wrists.
  6. Hold this position for 1 to 5 minutes.
  7. Lift the hips up, take the blocks out and release down from the pose.
  8. Draw the knees into the chest if you need to release the lower back or stretch the legs out to release the thighs.

Practice Points

  • Relax the buttocks completely, finding strength in the inner thighs instead.
  • Lengthen the tailbone towards the knees.
  • Soften the thighs and lengthen them towards the knees.
  • Stretch from the hip creases to the top of the head.
  • Strengthen the sides of the waist and roll them towards the head.
  • Press out into the belt and reach the arms towards the feet.
  • Widen and lift the back ribs.
  • Widen the shoulder blades and the collarbones.
  • Lift the backs of the armpits while descending the fronts.
  • Soften and deepen the notch between the collarbones.
  • Soften and widen the throat and the back of the neck.