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young woman performing bridge pose in yoga

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) Step-by-Step Instructions

The Bridge Pose is almost iconic because its so popular. And for good reason. The Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) is an excellent beginner yoga pose that boosts energy, creativity, and builds core strength. But it requires a few tips to perform it properly (which you already know) so we’re going to walk you through how to perform Bridge Pose step-by-step. 

Let’s get started...

woman doing the bridge pose yoga at the beach

How to do the Bridge Pose

Step 1: Begin on your back with your knees pointed toward the ceiling and the souls of your feet flat on your yoga mat. Your hands should be at your sides and your neck should be kept long.

Step 2:  Take a deep breath and bring your heels up toward your sit bones while keeping your knees in line with your hips. You should be able to touch the backs of your heels with your fingertips. 

Step 3: Take another breath and, on the exhale, press evenly through your feet and begin lifting your hips up from the floor. Take your time and really feel the stretch. Your neck should be nice and long, shoulders on the ground, and toes pointing forward. 

Step 4: Take inventory of yourself. Your glutes should be soft instead of flexed. Push your hips forward almost like you’re trying to push your tailbone toward your knees. Your hands can be even by your sides or, to increase the stretch, you can lock your hands underneath you. 

Step 5: Hold the pose for 5-10 breaths. Take the time to relax, feel the stretch, and just be there.

Step 6: On exhale, slowly lower your hips back down to the yoga mat and relax.

Modifications

Bridge Pose is an excellent way to stretch the muscles along the front side of your body, unlock your hips, and undo some of the tightness caused by sitting for long periods of time. You can leverage the Bridge Pose as a way to relax at the end of a long day, relieve tension in your back, or as part of a larger yoga sequence. 

To modify the pose, there are multiple options for you: 

  • If you have trouble staying in the Bridge, place a yoga block or yoga bolster underneath your sit bones. This provides the support needed to help you remain in the pose while still getting all the benefits of the stretch.
  • If suffering from shoulder pain, keep your hands at your sides rather than clasping them underneath you. 
  • For an added moment of relaxation, close your eyes and focus on your breath. 
  • To increase the challenge, try a one-legged bridge pose. You’ll do exactly the same steps as above but, when you reach the top, extend one leg straight out. Hold the pose for a few breaths and then repeat on the other side.

Benefits of Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose comes with many benefits including:

  • Stretching your muscles and releasing tension caused by sitting for extended periods of time. 
  • Builds core strength and stability. 
  • Strengthens your thighs and the muscles of your spine. 
  • Relieves tension in the shoulders
  • Boosts energy levels. 
  • Stimulates detoxification and digestion.  

Additionally, Bridge Pose is grouped in the “inversion poses” category. So it carries the same benefits as the other inversions. These include increased blood flow to your brain which can help you think more clearly, relief from some depression and anxiety symptoms, reduced stress, and reducing headaches.

Risks and contradictions 

When starting a new routine, you should consult your doctor to confirm that you’re healthy enough to perform the new routine. If you have any neck or back injuries, you should avoid this pose. Likewise, if you’re pregnant, check with your doctor before performing the pose. 

Tips 

  • Keep your feet from pointing out. Instead, keep your toes pointed forward and your feet parallel with your yoga mat. 
  • Keep your glutes soft and lift only with your thigh muscles. 
  • Avoid forcing your shoulders down and away from your ears. This can cause strain in the neck. 
  • Keep your neck perfectly straight. Avoid looking to one side or the other since this can cause herniation in your neck. 
  • Work slowly. Take your time getting into and out of the pose. Don’t force yourself beyond your limits or risk injury.

Related follow-up poses

Since the Bridge Pose is both a mild inversion as well as a backbend, there are many poses that can be grouped in. Here are a few of the most popular ones: 

Pose information 

  • Name: Setu Bandhasana
  • Difficulty: Beginner to Moderate

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