Instructor: Sarah N.
Sarah has completed an intensive yoga teacher training program in Pune, India at the BKS Iyengar Yoga Institute. She has been inspired to continue practicing yoga for life.

Bridge Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions


Depending on how you perform it, the Bridge Pose, also known as Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, can energize you, rejuvenate you or simply help you release tension as the perfect restorative posture.

Step by Step Pose Information Benefits Variations

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

(Pronounced as "SAY-too BAHN-dah Sar-VAHN-GAHS-anna")

In Sanskrit, Setu bandha means "locked into the form of a bridge. The Sanskrit word Sarvanga means "all of the limbs," or "the entire body." Literally, your body takes the shape of a bridge while your head forms a chin lock against your sternum.

How to do Bridge Pose

Step One

Lie down on your back on top of your yoga mat. Bend your knees so that your heels almost touch the outside edges of your buttocks. Keep your knees only at your hips' width apart. Straighten your arms on the ground at your side to grab your ankles. The right fingers wrap around the front of the right ankle with the right thumb circling around your Achilles' tendon. Hold your left ankle the same way with your left hand.

Step Two

Take a deep breath. While exhaling, push your tailbone in and lift your pelvis as high as you can. Push hard with your legs to shift your body weight toward your shoulders. Pull your ankles with your arms to help you lift your sternum up. This movement lets you tuck both of your shoulders underneath you more so that your shoulder blades come closer together.

Step Three

Now to help you get the full lift you need to support your pelvis, lift your heels up from the floor for a moment to press only your toes into the floor. Use this extra height to fit your palms underneath both sides of your tailbone. Your upper arms stay flat on the floor while only your forearms and hands are perpendicular to the floor, supporting your pelvis and lower back. Now you should feel most of your weight resting on your shoulders and hands. Put your heels back down so that both feet are flat on the floor.

Step Four

Pressing down firmly into the floor with your feet, lift up your buttocks and push your knees toward your torso so that your thighs are parallel to the floor, almost like a table top. Try to keep your knees right above your ankles. You will know that you are doing the posture correctly if you feel your thigh muscles working well.

Expand your chest fully and push your sternum up to touch your chin. Do not push your chin to your chest. Your head stays in place while the chest moves.

Step Five

Hold this posture for about 30 seconds to start. You can hold it a little longer each time your practice it. Breathe out as you slowly release your hands and roll your back down gently to the floor.

Beginner's Tip:

To help roll your shoulders underneath you more, lean onto your right shoulder a bit so that your left shoulder comes up and then tuck that left shoulder in closer to your spine. Then lean onto your left shoulder a bit so that you can tuck your right shoulder in closer to your spine. Do not strain your neck while making any adjustments.

Bridge Pose Information

Sanskrit Name:

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Pose Level:

Level 1

Contraindications and Cautions:

If you have had a neck injury, then do not practice Bridge Pose without an experienced yoga teacher.

Menstruating women should only practice this pose with a block underneath their sacrum for support, and they also need to keep their legs elevated by pressing their feet into a wall. That way, their legs stay at the same height as their hips.

Modifications and Props:

If you struggle with keeping your pelvis lifted, then put a block under your sacrum so that it lifts you as high up as possible from the floor. Your hands are then free so that you can interlock your fingers. Now push down against the floor with your straightened arms to raise your sternum higher.

Deepen the Pose:

After you lift your hips up as high as you can, then keep your lower back supported with your hands as you slowly stretch your legs out straight in front of you. Point your toes. Try not to lower your hips as you extend the legs straight.

Bridge Pose Benefits

  • Strengthens the muscles in your back to alleviate back aches and neck pain
  • Helps the brain to relax, reducing stress and depression
  • Stimulates your abdominal organs and the thyroid
  • Prevents varicose veins
  • Helps women going through menopause or menstruating
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety, exhaustion, headaches and insomnia
  • Normalizes blood pressure

Bridge Pose Variations

Eka Pada Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (pronounced like "ACHE-ah PAH-dah") literally means a one-legged Bridge Pose. Eka translates as "one," and pada means "foot" or "leg."

After your perform Bridge Pose fully to the best of your ability, take a deep breath. Exhale as you raise your right leg up straight in the air and point your toes, making your leg perpendicular to the floor. Hold it here for up to 30 seconds. Then exhale and lower the leg back to the floor. Now do the same with your left leg, holding it up in the air for the same amount of time.

Partnering:

Ask a partner to help train your thighs to lift the right way by using a yoga belt. After you lift yourself up as high as you can in the pose, they should stand behind your head and put the yoga belt around your knees.

Holding each end of the belt in their hands, they can gently pull your knees a little more toward your torso. The belt also slightly braces the outer thighs, helping you focus on turning your thighs in as you lift your pelvis up more. This movement in your thighs and pelvic floor is what you need to recreate in every backbend.

Next Pose:

Camel Pose

9 styles | 152 poses

Beginner Yoga Poses

Bharadvaja's Twist Pose
Big Toe Pose
Boat Pose
Bound Angle Pose
Bow Pose
Bridge Pose
Camel Pose
Cat Pose
Chair Pose
Child's Pose
Cobra Pose
Corpse Pose
Cow Pose
Cow Face Pose
Crow Pose
Dolphin Plank Pose
Downward Dog Pose
Eagle Pose
Eight Angle Pose
Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended Side Angle Pose
Firefly Pose
Fish Pose
Garland Pose
Half Frog Pose
Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
Half Moon Pose
Yoga Handstand
Happy Baby Pose
Head To Knee Pose
High Lunge Pose
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Locust Pose
Lotus Pose
Shoulder Pressing Pose
Low Lunge Pose
Monkey Pose
Mountain Pose
Noose Pose
Plank Pose
Plow Pose
Sage Koundinya I Pose
Sage Marichi's Pose
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose
Revolved Triangle Pose
Revolved Head to Knee Pose
Reclining Hero Pose
Scale Pose
Side Reclining Leg Lift Pose
Peacock Pose
Pyramid Pose
Crescent Lunge Pose
Heron Pose
Hero Pose
Feathered Peacock Pose
Staff Pose
Seated Forward Bend Pose
Four Limbed Staff Pose
Revolved Side Angle Pose
Wild Thing Pose
Side Crow Pose
Side Plank Pose
Sphinx Pose
Supported Headstand (Sirsasana)
Tree Pose
Standing Split
Supported Shoulderstand
Standing Half Forward Bend
Triangle Pose
Upward Plank Pose
Upward Facing Two Foot Staff Pose
Wheel Pose
Upward Salute Pose
Upward Facing Dog Pose
Warrior I Pose
Warrior II Pose
Warrior III Pose
Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend
Easy Pose
Gate Pose
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Dancer Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose II
Marichi's Pose
Fire Log Pose
Standing Forward Bend
Pose Dedicated to the Sage Koundinya II

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