Bridge Pose - Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

How to Do Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose. Ann Pizer

Also known as: Half wheel

Type of pose: Backbend, heart opener

Benefits: Strengthens the back, opens the chest, improves spinal mobility, stimulates the thyroid.


1. Lie down on your back.

2. Bend your knees, bringing the soles of your feet to your mat. Set your feet up about hip's distance apart, parallel to each other, and close to the buttocks. Reach your hands down along your sides. Your fingertips should be able to graze your heels.

3. Roll your shoulders down and back to secure your shoulder blades onto your back and puff up your chest. 

4. Press into your feet to lift your hips up towards the ceiling. You can choose whether to lift up on an inhale or an exhale. Moving on the inhale will allow your chest to float upwards as your lungs fill with air. Moving on the exhale lets you exert more power to push your hips up. It's interesting to try it both ways and notice the differences. 

5. Once your hips are lifted, tuck one shoulder at a time more securing under your chest. Interlace your fingers behind your back and straighten your arms, pressing them down into the mat.

6. Try to relax your butt while keeping your thighs engaged in order to lift the hips a little higher.

7. Inflate your chest toward your chin, but do not move your chin toward the chest. Keep your gaze on the ceiling and do not move your head around.

8. Make sure your feet and knees stay parallel the whole time.

9. To come out, release your hands from behind your back and allow your upper, middle, and then lower back down to the floor.

10. Rest, separating your feet as wide as your mat and allowing your knees to knock together. 

11. Do two more rounds of bridge for a total of three backbends. 

Beginners' Tips:


If your knees want to splay or your feet turn out, it's helpful to place a block between your knees. Squeeze the block with your knees the get the feel for how to keep them in line. You can add another block between your feet if keeping them parallel presents a problem. 

2. For a restorative variation, bring a block under the sacrum. Let your weight rest on the block. (See supported bridge for more detailed instructions.)

Advanced Tips: 

1. Lift one leg straight up to the ceiling. Flex your lifted foot strongly and press firmly into the foot that is still on the floor to keep your hips high. After several breaths, return your foot to the floor and try the other side. 

2. When coming out of the pose, keep your hands interlaced. Lower the weight of the body onto your arms for a deeper shoulder opener.

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