Setu Bandhasana or Bridge Building pose which is the final pose in the Ashtanga Primary series before the finishing sequence is my pose for the month of September.
This pose is different from the bridge pose as your shoulders are lifted off the floor and you are supported by your head and feet.
1.Lie on your back, bend your knees slightly and bring your heels together. Rotate your thighs, placing the outer edges of your feet on the floor.
2.Press your elbows to the floor and lift up your chest, arching the spine so the top of your head touches the floor.
3.Cross your arms and place your hands on your shoulders.
4.Inhaling, extend your legs and lift your buttocks off the floor. Roll onto your forehead and gaze towards your nose. Stay in the pose for five breaths.
5.To come out of the pose, exhale and lower your hips first. Keeping your arms by the side to support your neck, gently roll your head down.
6.Turn your head left and right.
You can take Chakrasana (the backward roll) to counterbalance the neck or rock up to sitting and hop back to Chaturanga Dandasana.
If you have neck issues or are unsure of the posture, instead of crossing your arms, you can take your arms to the side, palms down. With the arms in this position, straighten your legs. This arm position assists in carrying the weight of your torso and provides greater stability. Do this version for some time to allow your neck to straighten.
You can also place your hands at a 45 degree on the floor on either side of your head, fingers pointing towards your feet. You can now carry part of the weight with your arms while you explore rolling farther towards your forehead.
Points to note
1.Do not place your feet too close to your hips as this will put too much weight on your head in the full posture. The distance will vary between individuals, depending on flexibility and leg length. If you placed your feet the correct distance from your hips your legs should be fairly straight and your hips lower than your chest.
2.When you cross your arms over your chest, move your elbows away from your chin to open the chest and throat areas.
3.Keep your hip joints extended by using your buttocks rather than your hamstrings, which easily spasm in this posture.
This pose strengthens the back muscles and neck, correcting neck alignments. The throat is opened, stretching and cleansing the esophagus and the chest is expanded which increases the capacity of the lungs. This pose also helps to increase our digestive system due to the stimulation of our third chakra - the solar plexus chakra which s located midway between the navel and the base of the sternum.
Reference: Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy by Gregor Maehle
Check out the video below where David Swenson teaches the transitions into Setu Bandhasana in the Ashtanga series.