Half Bridge Pose – Ardha Setu Bandhasana
Half Bridge Pose is commonly practiced after Plough Pose, as a counterpose for the thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. It improves and complements the benefits of Shoulderstand and Plough Pose.
Gentle Backbending Inversion
Ardha means half, setu means bridge, bandha means lock.
Benefits of Half Bridge Pose
- Regular practice steadily and comfortably within a balanced yoga asana program:
- Stimulates the Heart Chakra and therefore stimulates your heart, lungs, thymus, and lymph glands
- Stimulates your thyroid and parathyroid glands
- Slows heartbeat and reduces blood pressure (if chest is raised high enough to press into the chin)
- Stretches your spine in the opposite direction than in Shoulderstand and Plough Pose and therefore reverses the compression of the lumbar and thoracic regions
- Strengthens abdominal and lumbar muscles
- Rejuvenates and tones the legs and buttocks
- Stretches intercostals and can be therapeutic for asthma; and
- Releases lower-back tension and pain and rejuvenates tired back muscles.
Instructions for Half Bridge Pose
How to come into the pose
- Lie down on your back, bend your knees, and bring your feet close to your hips. Keep your feet hip-width apart and heels on the floor.
- Place your hands by your sides, palms facing downward
- Breathe in, push your hands into the floor, and slowly lift your hips u to the ceiling
- Reach with your hands toward your ankles and bring your chest toward your chin.
- Keep lifting your pelvis upward and back toward your head and breathe evenly.
Coming out of the pose
Place your palms flat on the floor and vertebra by vertebra roll the back down toward the floor.
Alignment Cues for Half Bridge Pose
- Keeping shoulders and head on the floor, draw your shoulder blades toward each other.
- Knees should stay parallel, toes may point slightly outwards.
- Knees and ankles should be at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
Duration of Hold
- Beginners: 30 seconds–1 minute
- Intermediate: 1–2 minutes
- Advanced: 2–4 minutes
- There are no general contraindications and cautions to this pose. However, respect your limit of movement and do not push further than that, as that can cause strain in your neck or knees.
Cautions and Contra-indications
If you cannot hold your ankles while maintaining the correct alignment, you can also:
- Keep your palms flat on the floor, next to your thighs, and then push your pelvis up as high as you can;
- You can support your back by bringing your hands in the same position as in Shoulderstand (fingers pointing toward your spine and thumbs up alongside your body).
Rest in Corpse Pose and then move on to Fish Pose – Matsayasana.
For more yoga asanas and exercises, make sure to visit Arhanta Yoga Asana Guide!