SETU BANDA SARVANGASANA – Literally this is a bridging shoulder balance, really intended to be entered from shoulder balance but usually practiced as a separate entity first, and often as a supported or restorative pose – not today!
Start semi-supine on the ground with the head over the end of your mat.
Feet close to the buttocks and hip width.
Reach back with the right hand, palm up, to place the fingers/fingertips under the heel, now do the same with the left hand.
If this is currently beyond your reach, then place a belt around each ankle. In both cases have the arms fully extended.
Press the heels down and try to pull the fingers out to create a sense of resistance in the whole of your body, then roll first the tip of the tailbone up followed by the pelvis then the lumbar spine. This position is known as CHATUSHPADASANA and is a good preparatory pose for setu bandha sarvangasana as it really broadens the chest and expands the lungs.
Repeat taking left hand back first.
When doing a for a second round try reaching back with both the right and left hand simultaneously to hold the ankles, or again use the belts, creating bodily resistance for the rolling up of the spine. Repeating the pose helps to tone the lumbo-dorsal regions of the spine and buttocks.
Fold your yoga mat in half (or 4-fold if that feels better for your neck) and place the narrow end to the wall.
Now place your shoulders on the edge of the mat, again with your head and neck on the floor.
Place and press your feet into the wall, feet together unless there is a history of backache in which case take the feet hip width apart, again engage your tailbone to get a smooth flow in the spine as you peel it off the floor. Feel the weight transferring more to the shoulders.
Again, reach back with the arms, turning the palms up then place the hands onto the back with the fingers towards to the spine and the thumbs towards the waist. Work the hands towards the shoulder blades as much as you can this will help strengthen arms and wrists.
This gives extensive length to the front body (abdomen, diaphragm, digestive organs).
Maintain the pose breathing normally for about one minute.
Exhale and gradually lower the body to semi supine, breath normally to recover.
To repeat several times gradually drawing the mat 10-15cm further from the wall until the legs become horizontal.
You will have to work harder now to support the lower ribs of the back on the palms of the hands and to extend the legs.
PROGRESS the pose, keeping an ease in the spine and as long as your wrists permit, towards having the feet on the floor.
BENEFITS of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Like many poses in the ‘sarvangasna’ family done well this pose is a panacea to many ills. It greatly improves the blood supply to the neck, brain, hypothalamus, thyroid and parathyroid glands. Thus, soothing the nervous system while improving mood insomnia and poor memory.
If you have any doubts about the suitability of this pose for you then please ask your teacher.