Backward Bends


Setu Bandha (Bridge Pose)


Level: All Levels

Setu = bridge. Bandha = Lock or restraint, refers to a pose where certain organs or body parts are contracted or controlled.

To protect the neck and to give more lift to the back and openness to the chest, you can do the pose with a folded blanket across the tops of the shoulders as shown above.

Organizing the Pose


  1. Lie flat on the back.
  2. Bend the knees and place the feet flat on the floor close to the hips.
  3. Lift the hips a little bit off the floor and clasp the hands underneath.
  4. Roll the shoulders down into the floor and widen the collarbones.
  5. Exhale and swing the hips and thighs towards the knees.
  6. Widen and lift the back.
  7. Hold this position for 20 to 60 seconds.
  8. Release out of the pose.
  9. Draw the knees into the chest if you need to release the lower back or stretch the legs out to release the thighs.

Practice Points


  • Relax the buttocks completely, finding strength in the inner thighs instead.
  • Lengthen the tailbone towards the knees.
  • Soften the thighs and lengthen them towards the knees.
  • Stretch from the hip creases to the top of the head.
  • Strengthen the sides of the waist and roll them towards the head.
  • Widen and lift the back ribs.
  • Widen the shoulder blades and the collarbones.
  • Lift the backs of the armpits while descending the fronts.
  • Soften and deepen the notch between the collarbones.
  • Soften and widen the throat and the back of the neck.