Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
(Bridge Pose, Version 2)
This is a backward extension where the front of the body is opened, bringing freedom into the chest, abdomen and pelvic area. This pose is helpful to asthmatics and regulates high blood pressure. By regular practice, the neck is given a good stretch, and tension in the shoulders is relieved. It helps relieve headaches and nervous tension. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is also a mild inversion where the heart is gently exercised. A longer stay in this pose quiets the mind and draws the consciousness inward. Due to the restorative nature of the pose, lost energy is replenished, the body fully rested and the immune system is strengthened. The glands of the body are nourished so that the hormones are regulated. Due to the opening of the abdomen, digestion is improved.
To practice this version you will need two yoga blocks or similar.
1. Place a yoga block against the wall. It should be on its long side as in the photo.
2. Lie on your back on the floor with your feet facing the wall and about two feet away from the wall and block. Have the second block by your side.
3. Bend your legs and scoot your buttocks closer to the feet.
4. Now press your feet into the floor and lift your buttocks up. Place the second block under the sacrum. It should be on its short edge as in the photo. Rest the sacrum down onto the block.
5. Hold this block with both hands and open your chest by rolling the upper arms out. Spread the collarbones wide. Extend your neck along the floor.
MANOA YOGA CENTER
Shelley Choy, co-director of Manoa Yoga Center, demonstrates Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, which is a more intense version of a pose featured in a previous column.
6. Now extend one leg to the wall and place on the first block. Then do the same with the second leg. Point the feet straight up and do not let them turn out.
7. Press the heels down into the block and press the feet into the wall as you straighten the legs and slide away from the wall, keeping the second block under the sacrum.
8. Keep the neck long and chest open. Press the feet into the wall so the legs remain firm and straight. You will feel the front of the body receive a good stretch. If there is discomfort in the back, then take the feet higher up the wall.
9. Stay in this pose for about a minute, maintaining straight legs by pressing the feet and heels into the wall. Let the neck lengthen and relax the eyes and facial muscles. When you inhale, allow the chest to gently spread and become vast. When you exhale, follow the breath with your focused attention, allowing the mind to become quiet and the nerves to be soothed.
10. To come out of the pose, place the feet on the floor, lift the buttocks up and remove the block. Lower the buttocks to the floor and gradually allow the back to rest on the floor with the knees bent.
and Shelley Choy
are certified Iyengar Yoga teachers and co-direct the Manoa Yoga Center at Manoa Marketplace. Visit www.manoayoga.com
or call 382-3910. Manoa Yoga Center, the authors and the Star-Bulletin take no responsibility for any injury arising from the practice of these yoga postures. Readers should seek a doctor's approval before commencing this yoga practice.