setu bandha sarvangasana

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Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip distance apart. Rest your hands near your hips with the palms up which helps open the front of the shoulders and collarbones.

Settle into the earth. Then bring your attention to the feet. Readjust them so they are parallel to each other and equidistant from the hips. Sense the weight resting evenly on the four corners of each foot.

Now send a gentle rooting action down through your legs, as if you were trying to press the floor away from you.

Notice what happens as you intensify this rooting action. Do you sense its energy rebounding back up through you, lightening your hips and inviting them to rise upward? Surrender to this impulse, curling the tailbone up and allowing the pelvis to float just an inch or two off the ground. Breathe easily for a few moments, keeping your mind focused on those strong and steady feet, then, slowly allow your hips to melt back downward. Gently sweep your tailbone away from your waist as you return to the earth, inviting your spine to feel long and unwrinkled.

When you’re ready to repeat this action, perhaps moving a little deeper into Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, consider an image offered by expert yoga teacher Barbara Benagh: your spine as a strand of pearls, with each vertebra a separate bead that is capable of its own articulation.

When you lie on your back, the entire strand of pearls will rest on the ground. When you rise up into Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, the strand will be picked up one bead at a time, starting at the tail end of the strand, near your sacrum. And when you reverse your movements to emerge from the pose, you will settle the pearls back onto the ground, one by one, beginning with the top of the strand, near your head. The first pearl to float upward into the pose will be the last to return back home.

As you explore Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, keep in mind a few important details. First, avoid the tendency to let the knees splay wider than the feet as you rise upward. At the same time, take care to keep the feet parallel to each other, with all four corners of each foot fully planted into the earth.

And finally, as your Bridge arches higher off the ground, readjust your upper back so you rest more on the shoulders than on the shoulder blades. As you rise up higher onto the shoulders, be mindful not to flatten the back of the neck into the ground. Instead, feel the muscles in the face, jaw, and neck soften and release. These few adjustments will help your body maintain integrity as you move farther and farther into the heart of the pose.

When you feel your body giving way to fatigue, settle down toward the ground, taking care to lengthen the tailbone toward your feet as you do so to elongate the spine. Breathe comfortably and steadily, close your eyes, and drift back toward the center of the earth, softening every fiber of your body.

Excerpt from Yoga Journal article Setu Bandha Sarvangasana by Claudia Cummins

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