Bridge pose

bridge pose – setu bandhasana

Bridge pose (setu bandhasana or sometimes referred to as setu bandha sarvangasana) is classified as a traction backbend, pressing the front of the body up against gravity to create the bend in the spine. The muscles of the front of the body are engaged.  Bridge pose is a good precursor and warm up to full bow pose, or wheel – urdhva danurasana.  

set up

To come into the pose, lie on your back.  Bend your knees,  soles of both feet on the floor – heels in line with sit bones.  Begin to peel your spine up, starting from the tailbone and working your way up the spine.

When you come to the shoulders, tuck them beneath you, like taking a fitted sheet under a mattress.  Lift your chest to your chin.

working within the pose

upper body

  • Press arms actively into the floor
  • Lift chin slightly away from sternum and, firming shoulder blades against the back, press top of the sternum toward the chin
  • Raise both the back and front of the body to increase the arch in your back
  • Press forearms into the mat while you reach your knuckles toward your heels
  • Keep shoulder blades drawn together as you extend your arms underneath your torso
  • Hands can clasp beneath you if that feels ok
  • Be careful not to turn your head from side to side in this position

lower body

  • Press inner edges of feet actively into the floor
  • Lengthen tailbone to the backs of your knees
  • Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel
  • Engage glutes without clenching
  • Imagine there is a block between your thighs to keep your engaged glutes from overextending your hips 


  • Strengthens legs, back, glutes
  • Stretches abdominals, chest, hip flexors, front thighs
  • Calming effect on the brain
  • Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, thyroid
  • Stretches neck and spine
  • Alleviates headache, insomnia, anxiety
  • Improves digestion
  • Eases osteoporosis
  • Eases symptoms of asthma


  • Play with extending one leg at a time, maintaining lift of chest and extension of the whole body
  • Block can be placed under the sacrum for a supported variation (in supported variation, legs can stay bent at the knee, or extend straight)


  • Neck or spine injuries
  • Knee surgery/replacements
  • Pregnancy
  • Hernia
  • Peptic or duodenal ulcers
Stick figure doing bridge pose in yoga - setu bandhasana

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