January Yoga Pose of the Month
A pose to help you transition from the previous year to the new one.
Our January Yoga Pose of the Month is Bridge Pose, otherwise known as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (SAY-too BAHN-duh shar-vahn-GAHS-uh-nuh). In this way, we are transitioning from one year to the next. Often times, we knowingly or unknowingly place a barrier around our own hearts to protect us from hurt. This can manifest as tightened pectorals which can lead to rounding of the shoulders. This effects our posture and how we carry ourselves in the world. Bridge can help us overcome this tendency.
In yoga, we believe that the body, mind and spirit are linked. This pose releases tension throughout the entire back body. Bridge is safer and more accessible than other back bending poses and available for all levels. There are also many ways to use props in this pose. For example, one can set a yoga block or bolster under the sacrum in order to relax passively in this beneficial position.
I often do bridge pose just before an inversion like a shoulder stand. An inversion is when we turn our body upside down getting the blood flowing in the opposite direction and emotionally offering a new perspective. Therefore fittingly, our January pose can be your lead up to the changes you would like to affirm in your life as we start the New Year.
Bridge pose strengthens legs and glutes — our foundation, our base. We open up our hip flexors where we carry so much tension. With so much sitting that we do in our lives, our hip flexors are often in the opposite position. They have been referred to as the most neglected muscle in our body. It is so important to open these up and keep these flexible as the hip flexors are responsible for so many or our daily functions.
Before attempting the pose, you will need to warm up. Practice cat/cows, sun salutes, cobras and salabasana (sha-la- BAHS-anna) in your warm up. Also practice internal rotation and strengthening of the legs. Perhaps try a chair pose and table top pose.
To access Setu Bandhu Sarvangasana, lie on your back. Place your feet right behind your hips, hip distance apart and parallel (not turned out). Knees are pointed up to the sky (not outward) just over the ankles. Arms are alongside the body. Start to lift your hips, as your back lifts off the ground, inch your upper arms in toward each other. This will help get that one vertebrae that pokes out (C7) up off the ground. Spiral inner thighs down as you draw the tailbone to your knees. Lift shoulder blades up and spread the collarbones. Press upper arms into the floor.
This will open us up at the center, untying the knots around our hearts and help us to free ourselves from imposed fears. This enables us to move toward bravery, trust and being open to our future. As we open our hearts, we increase our capacity to give and receive love — including to ourselves.