Half Bridge Pose
The backbend Half Bridge Pose or in Sanskrit Ardha Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is a preparation pose for full Bridge Pose and eventually Wheel Pose. Half Bridge Pose is a gentle back bend to mobilize the spine, a pose to level and align hips, knees and ankles. Half Bridge Pose powers up the legs it mobilizes and strengthens the shoulder joints and opens the chest for deeper more full breaths.
How to do this Pose Correctly
Sit in seated staff pose (Dandasana) in other words sit on the mat with legs straight before you, ankles and knees hip distance apart. Make sure to pull the flesh of the glute muscles out to side to sit evenly on the sitting bones. Sit up straight and elongate the spine while keeping the front ribs down. Softly open the chest and roll the shoulders back and down.
Bend the knees so the feet come flat. Hips, knees and ankles remain in a straight alignment and the feet are perfectly straight. The feet and knees do not roll in or out, at all times they remain straight though the pose. Lay down so back and head rest on the mat, be sure the lower back is flat on the mat. Arms rest close to the body. Bring the feet as close to the buttocks as is comfortable. Begin externally rolling the upper arms as you pull them close as possible to the sides; opening wide across the chest. Opening the armpit of the chest will help with this and the arms will start to come under the ribs. With a long slow exhale lift the sacrum and hips like tipping a cup of tea to toward the face, root the four corners of the feet down to drive the hips up and curl the spine up off the ground to the shoulders so there is a straight line from knees to shoulders. This is Half Bridge Pose so there is no arching of the spine. The natural curvature of the spine are present. Power is felt from the firmly planted feet up the knees and flows to the shoulders. Arms can rest on the floor. Breath slowly in and out and hold the pose for 3-5 breaths then break the pose by rolling the upper, the middle and the lower spine downward so that the sacrum and buttocks come to rest on the mat last. Go up and down a few times. When in Half Bridge Pose, inhale raise the arms up over the head so the hands come to rest straight out on the mat or floor above the head. Look straight ahead to the ceiling or sky. Arms can stay over the head until the sacrum rolls down again to the mat, move the arms up over the head and down to rest at your sides. Rolling down while arms rest overhead can bring more awareness to personal mobility in the upper spine. Easy and smooth motion improves each time Half Bridge Pose is performed. Remember it is a deliberate slow movement up and down; moving along vertebrae by vertebrae.
To release the hips, knees and feet rest in Corpse Pose. Sit up in Seated Staff Pose where you began. You are ready for the next pose. Bridge Pose is a gentle back bend pose.
Strengthens the back muscles. The more slow and controlled that movement rolling up and down along the spine the more fine the motor control development and body awareness.
Relieves back tension and improves blood circulation along the entire spine. The spine is surprisingly very vascular.
Calms the sympathetic nerves of the torso thus immediately reducing anxiety and stress.
Half Bridge Pose stretches the neck and shoulders, stimulates the thyroid and parathyroid glands of the neck and improves throat chakra function helping improve self-expression, self esteem and will power.
The partial inversion in Half Bridge Pose is easy, and while the hips roll up and down the viscera (organs) of the chest and abdomen are gently massaged. This particularly raises awareness of colon health. Feel the weight of matter in the intestines. Is it light, heavy, empty and free? Is there a watery sloshing sound in the upper gut?
Contraindications for Bridge Pose
Those with conditions of a herniated or prolapsed discs or those with any current injury to neck, ribs, back or legs and ankles should avoid Half Bridge Pose until these issues are resolved.
May all beings everywhere be happy and free. Namaste.