"Setu Bandha Sarvangasana," also known as bridge pose, is a great pose to relieve stress.
Begin lying on your back, legs bent, feet planted on the floor with heels hip distance apart and as close to your tailbone as possible. If necessary, place a thickly-folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Exhale, press your feet and arms into the mat and lift your tailbone, buttocks and hips off the floor. The thighs and feet remain parallel. Lift your chin slightly away from the chest and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the upper chest (sternum) toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to liftthe space between them at the base of the neck (where it's resting on the blanket) up into the torso.
If it is difficult to lift the pelvis, slide a block or bolster under your sacrum for support. An option to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders is to clasp the hands beneath your pelvis and extend through the arms.
Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly, one vertebra at a time. Avoid this pose if you have a neck injury.
Some benefits of Setu Bandha Sarvangasana include stretching the chest, neck and spine, calming the brain and helping to alleviate stress and mild depression. It also stimulates abdominal organs, lungs and the thyroid and it may help to reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache and insomnia. It can even be therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and sinusitis.
Hilary Steinberg is the owner of Jaya Yoga, 320 S. State St., Clarks Summit. Call 319-1726 or visit www.jayayogastudio.com for more information.