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Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana): Steps & Benefits

Bridge Pose, known as Setu Bandhasana in Sanskrit, is a foundational backbend in yoga. This pose involves lying on your back, bending your knees, and lifting your hips towards the sky, forming a bridge-like shape with your body. It's a pose that not only strengthens the back and legs but also opens up the chest and shoulders, providing a delightful blend of grounding and uplifting energy.

Bridge Pose

In Sanskrit, "Setu" translates to "bridge," and "Bandha" means "lock" or "formation." Therefore, Setu Bandhasana directly translates to "Bridge Formation Pose." This name captures the essence of the pose, as the body forms a bridge, connecting the upper and lower parts of the body while creating a locked or stable structure.

The pronunciation of Setu Bandhasana can be broken down as follows:

  • Setu: SAY-too

  • Bandha: BUN-duh

  • Asana: AH-suh-nuh

Putting it together: SAY-too BUN-duh AH-suh-nuh.

Anatomy of Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

In Bridge Pose, several key muscles and joints are actively engaged:

  • Glutes and Hamstrings: These muscles work to lift and support the hips.

  • Spine: The lumbar and thoracic regions are extended, promoting spinal flexibility.

  • Hip Flexors: Stretched to allow the hips to rise.

  • Chest and Shoulders: Opened and expanded as the arms press into the mat.

  • Core: Engaged to maintain stability and control.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana): Steps and Instructions

  1. Begin on Your Back: Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and feet hip-width apart. Place your arms alongside your body with palms facing down.

  2. Position Your Feet: Ensure your feet are parallel and close enough that you can touch your heels with your fingertips.

  3. Engage and Lift: Press into your feet and lift your hips towards the sky. Roll your shoulders underneath you and interlace your fingers beneath your back, if comfortable.

  4. Hold and Breathe: Keep your thighs and feet parallel, avoiding any splaying out. Breathe deeply, lifting your chest towards your chin.

  5. Release Gently: After holding the pose for the desired duration, release your hands and slowly lower your hips back to the mat.

Bridge Pose

When to do it

Bridge Pose is versatile and can be incorporated into your practice at different times:

  • Morning: To invigorate and energize the body.

  • Pre-Workout: As a dynamic warm-up to prepare the spine and hips.

  • Post-Workout: To stretch and release tension in the back and legs.

  • Evening: To unwind and relax the mind and body.

Preparatory Poses

Before attempting the Bridge Pose, warm up with these preparatory poses:

  • Cat-Cow (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana): To mobilize the spine.

  • Supine Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana): To open the hips and stretch the groin.

  • Pelvic Tilts: To activate the core and lower back.

Follow-Up Poses

After Bridge Pose, consider these follow-up poses to maintain balance in your practice:

  • Reclining Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana): To release the spine.

  • Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana): To stretch the lower back and hips.

  • Fish Pose (Matsyasana): To counterbalance the backbend and open the chest.


Bridge Pose is primarily associated with the Anahata Chakra, or the Heart Chakra. Located at the center of the chest, the Anahata Chakra governs love, compassion, and emotional balance. Practicing Bridge Pose can help open and balance this chakra, promoting a sense of openness and emotional release.

Heart Chakra

Mantra for this Pose

The chanting of the mantra can invoke compassion and love, aligning perfectly with the heart-opening nature of the pose. A powerful mantra to complement Bridge Pose is

"Om Mani Padme Hum"

Alignment Cues

To ensure proper alignment and maximize the benefits of Bridge Pose, keep these cues in mind:

  • Keep your feet and knees hip-width apart and parallel.

  • Engage your glutes without over-squeezing to protect the lower back.

  • Lift through the chest rather than arching excessively in the lower back.

  • Relax your neck and avoid turning your head to the sides.

Duration of Hold

Hold Bridge Pose for 5-10 breaths initially. As you build strength and flexibility, you can increase the duration to 1-2 minutes.


In Bridge Pose, your gaze (drishti) should be upwards, either towards the ceiling or towards a fixed point straight ahead. This helps maintain alignment and focus.

Physical & Spiritual Awareness

While in Bridge Pose, cultivate physical and spiritual awareness:

  • Physical: Feel the grounding of your feet and the lift through your hips and chest. Notice the stretch in your hip flexors and the strength in your glutes and hamstrings.

  • Spiritual: Connect with the openness in your heart center. Allow yourself to feel a sense of expansion and release, inviting in compassion and love.

Beginners’ Tips

  • Use a Block: Place a yoga block under your sacrum for support if you find it challenging to hold the pose.

  • Mind Your Knees: Keep your knees aligned with your hips to avoid straining your knees.

  • Start Slow: Begin with shorter holds and gradually increase the duration as you build strength.

Who Should Not Do It

Avoid Bridge Pose if you have:

  • Severe neck or back injuries.

  • Recent shoulder or knee surgery.

  • High blood pressure (without guidance from a medical professional).

Who Should Do It

Bridge Pose is beneficial for:

  • Those looking to strengthen their back, glutes, and hamstrings.

  • Individuals seeking to open their chests and improve posture.

  • Practitioners wanting to balance their Anahata Chakra.

Benefits of Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Practicing Bridge Pose regularly can yield numerous benefits:

  • Physical: Strengthens the back, glutes, and hamstrings; stretches the hip flexors and chest; improves spinal flexibility.

  • Mental: Reduces stress and anxiety; promotes relaxation.

  • Spiritual: Opens the heart chakra, fostering compassion and emotional balance.

Variations of Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

Explore these variations to deepen your practice:

  • Supported Bridge Pose: Use a block under the sacrum for a restorative version.

  • One-Legged Bridge Pose: Lift one leg towards the sky for an additional challenge.

  • Wheel Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana): An advanced backbend that builds on Bridge Pose.

Modifications for Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)

  • With a Block: Place a block under your sacrum for support.

  • Arm Placement: If interlacing your fingers is uncomfortable, keep your arms alongside your body with palms pressing down.

Common Mistakes

Avoid these common mistakes to ensure a safe practice:

  • Overarching the Lower Back: Focus on lifting through the chest rather than the lower back.

  • Knees Falling Apart: Keep your knees aligned with your hips.

  • Tensing the Neck: Relax your neck and avoid turning your head.

Safety and Precautions

  • Warm up properly before attempting the Bridge Pose.

  • Move slowly and mindfully into and out of the pose.

  • Use props like blocks for additional support if needed.

Additional Preparation Tips

Direction to Face While Doing This Pose and Why

Face the direction that feels most grounding and free from distractions. This helps you stay focused and present.

What to Wear for This Pose

Wear comfortable, stretchy clothing that allows for full range of motion. Avoid clothing with zippers or buttons that can dig into your back.

Suitable Place and Essential Oil or Fragrance

Practice in a quiet, serene environment. Use essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus to enhance relaxation and focus.

Music for This Pose

Soft, calming music or nature sounds can create a soothing atmosphere. Consider instrumental tracks or gentle yoga playlists.

Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana) is a beautiful pose that offers a plethora of physical, mental, and spiritual benefits. By incorporating this pose into your practice, you can build strength, flexibility, and emotional balance. Remember to move mindfully, listen to your body, and enjoy the journey towards a more open heart and a stronger body.

Happy yoga-ing!


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About the Author

Namaste! I'm Pooja Chauhan

RYT 200Hrs | Meditation Coach 

Diving deep into the realm of yoga to revive its original teachings to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing them with the world.

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