Small Bridge Pose and variations – Ardha Setu Bandhasana

Setu Bhandasana 1This is, so to speak, a bread and butter easy backbend. The posture is generally attainable by most beginners and is excellent for continued development of back-bending.

All back bends stimulate our energy system. So the next time you are feeling a bit sluggish try a few back bending actions or poses. The spine gets a good mobilisation provided we are careful to always maintain space in each of the three main segments – the lumbar, thoracic and cervical areas.

small bridge 2 - ardha setu bandhasana (2)Owing to the lower back usually being a bit more flexible for most of us, we tend to ‘take’ the backbends from here. This translates into too much stress in one area without correct distribution of ‘bend’ or extension. Often guys do not maintain enough extension and opening throughout the length of the spine. So be careful to maximise the lift of the chest by powerfully moving your breast-bone (sternum) towards your chin. To do this really effectively we need to engage our Latisimus dorsi muscle group just below the tips of the shoulder blades. These points need to ‘dig’ in deeply into the chest so expanding correctly. Shoulders are always broad and we are rolled up onto the top of the shoulders. Neck small bridge variation 1 - eka pada setu bandhasana (2)should not be over extended as there is a strong bend at the 7th cervical vertebra (the big one that sticks out at the base of the neck). So keep some relaxation in the neck and especially relax the lower jaw. Breathing will be high in the chest. This is fine for the duration of the pose. We need to press the heels down into the mat firmly and use the thighs to lift the hips up on a strong exhalation. Keep the knees about a hip width wide and the feet in line with the knees but do press the big toe s and there mounds firmly into the mat spreading out the toes to the maximum.

Also make sure you are resisting the ankles with your hands and pressing the wrists deeply into the mat for extra lift.

Hold for 30 secs to a minute, come down by rolling the spine from the upper to lower back. Repeat three or four times, each time trying to go a little further.

Eka Pada Setu BhandasanaAs always the Asana should be sequenced with other suitable poses in an appropriate energetic balance.


We rolled up fully onto the top of the shoulders and the wrists need to kept strong to support the body correctly. Elbows directly underneath the hips. Now centre one foot and raise the other leg stretching up 90° back knee well open and front thighs contracted firmly. Stay 30 seconds and alternate the legs. Come down for a breath or two and then repeat both sides.

Setu Bhandasana 2By stretching both legs out at full extension the chest receives a deeper expansion than in a basic Small Bridge pose. Stretch strongly with a firm inward rotation on the thighs. Simultaneously push the sternum bone powerfully towards the nose and dig the tips of the shoulder blades deeply into the chest. Again stay half a minute on each side, rest and then repeat.

Vatta ↑Kappha ↓ Pitta ↑


About spiralsacredspiral

Paul is a long time Yoga & Tai Chi instructor owning and running Sacred Spiral. As a versatile composer and musician Paul fronts as 'paul carlos'
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