Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

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Setu bandhasana is pronounced set-too-bahn-DAHS-ana. The term “setu” means bridge; “banda” means lock. The bridge pose is a joy for body, mind, and spirit. It requires a good degree of coordination to initiate and achieve. When executed thoughtfully, each stretch and movement is satisfying and rewarding — even before reaching the final pose. A fresh blood supply to the brain relaxes the mind, lifts the spirits, and provides a sense of well-being. This asana revitalizes the nerves, takes pressure off the heart, massages the digestive organs, relieves back strain, and brings energy to tired legs. All-in-all, it is a most wonderful yoga pose.

How To Practice

Begin flat on the floor, arms by your sides. Bend your knees until you feel your feet strong and flat on the floor, about hip-width apart. Slowly lift your torso off the floor, supported by your feet and your shoulders, thus beginning to form your bridge.

Bring your arms close and hands interlocked directly under the center of your raised torso. Slowly continue to raise your torso into the air, exaggerating the bridge being formed. Feel the stretch in your upper legs and also in your shoulders. Rest your head comfortably on the floor without constricting your neck. Feel your chest open and your breath even out. You may wish to enter in and out of this pose several times rather than hold it — going deeper each time.

After completing the pose, hug your knees and roll from side to side. Notice your refreshed state of being — body, mind, and spirit.

 

Padangustha Padma Utkatasana (Half Lotus Toe Balance)

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Padangustha padma utkatasana is another advanced balance pose. You might want to feel mastery in the chair pose before proceeding with this asana. It will help you to feel your way into this pose successfully. Also, like other balance poses, the mind and heart will benefit from your non-judgemental, pressure-free, yet heightened focus — the end result being increased clarity of mind.

How To Practice 

Begin standing tall in mountain pose, yet loose and relaxed in preparation for entering the pose. Lift your left leg off the floor and place it over your right thigh — near the right knee. Slowly bend down as if beginning to sit in a chair. Let your left leg push down towards the ground as it supports your effort to assume the pose. Think only about the bend of your knee and the bend of your hips. Otherwise, you want to keep your spine straight and the lean of your upper body and head forward.

Bring your hands together in prayer position and let the elbows balance on your folded left leg. Slowly lower yourself to the floor, balancing on the ball of your right foot. Finish the pose by bringing your hands to the chest, keeping them in the prayer position.

Utthita Ardha Dhanurasana (Standing Half Bow Balance)

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Utthita Ardha Dhanurasana is an easier alternative to natarajasana (dancer’s pose). It still develops balance, poise, and grace — as well as flexibility of the spine and expansion of the upper body.

How To Practice 

Begin in mountain pose. While standing tall on your left foot, begin drawing your right leg back behind you. The end goal is to bend the knee so that the calf and foot point straight up towards the sky, while your thigh is level with the ground. This position is supported by your right arm stretched straight out behind you, with your hand holding the ankle. Your left arm is pointing straight out in front of you, palm up, with your index finger and thumb joined together. Your gaze should be soft and fixed straight ahead, through the joined fingers.

The finished pose does not form a circle like dancer’s pose does. It will look more like a rectangle.

Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose)

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Natarajasana is pronounced not-ah-raj-AHS-ana. The term “nata” means dancer; “raja” means king. The dancer’s pose is difficult. It should be practiced well into a session — when your muscles, joints, and emotions are flexible.  Natarajasana is one of the names of Siva, Lord of the Dance, inspirer of great Indian bronze and sculpture. Siva is also considered the source of yoga itself.

 

How To Practice

Begin standing tall in mountain pose (tadasana). Remain standing tall on the left leg while bending the right leg up and behind you, sole of the foot facing upward. Now grab your foot by the toes by reaching the right arm and hand behind you. This will all be made easier by pointing the toes out to your right and pointing the elbow of your right arm outward to the right, as well.

Slowly lift the right leg up and the foot toward your head. Throughout this movement, keep the right hip square and level with the left side of the body. You are essentially forming a circle. The final pose can have both hands holding the right leg behind your head — or the right hand only — while the left arm is pointed straight out in front of you, palm down.

As a balance pose, you will develop more poise and grace than you thought possible — in mind, body, and spirit. The upper body and vertebrae will receive full extension and expansion with this pose. It will also energize you.

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