Pose of the Week: Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
My mind is quick to mask the discomfort and stress of the global pandemic we are facing. And while I want to have an action plan for every possible outcome, there is truly nothing I can do but keep myself and my community safe by staying inside.
I feel suspended. Craving the taste of normalcy while uncertainty lingers, I am unable to plan for the future or even ponder the road ahead. Making plans gives me hope and a creates the illusion of control, something I want so desperately at this time.
I reach for my mat, an island of safety in a swirling sea of uncertainty, and suspend my body because it is all I can think to do. Perhaps arranging my body to match my feelings will reveal something - or not - but I am along for the ride and jump in head first.
Taking a supported variation of this pose allows me to stay longer and soak in the benefits. Props offer support, comfort and awareness. As my body drapes over the props, I can focus on the natural deepening of my breath, quieting of my mind and feeling of equilibrium between body and spirit.
Find what works best for your body right now and don't worry about having the “right” prop. Use what you have, begin at the lowest height and keep in mind the following key points.
- head is lower than the heart
- pelvis level with chest
- chest moves toward chin
- C7, seventh cervical vertebrae, is naturally lifted up and in
- rest on the flat part of the skull below the occiput
- open arms wide so the armpits are free
Reasons to practice this pose
Inversions may offer a shift in perspective. When we feel stuck or unable to break free of tired old thought patterns, physically manipulating the body can do wonders. When the head is below the heart, the mind is pacified and the nervous system begins to deregulate. This pose stimulates the lungs, heart, and digestive and reproductive systems.
- high blood pressure
- serious neck injury
“Salamba Setu Bandhasana.” Restore and Rebalance: Yoga for Deep Relaxation, by Judith Hanson Lasater, Shambhala, 2017, pp. 62–65.