Bridge Pose: Benefits, Perfect How-To, and Variations

Unleash the power of the bridge pose, a classic yoga asana with numerous benefits. You have come to the right place if you seek guidance on a powerful and transformative yoga pose!

Learn how the effects of this profound posture can strengthen your body, mind, and health sustainably.

Table of Contents:

What Is the Bridge Pose?

The bridge pose, or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana in Sanskrit, is a popular and versatile yoga pose. The name comes from the fact that it puts the body in a bridge-like shape.

The pose belongs to the backbends and has the benefits of an inverted pose without the practitioner having to stand upside down. Therefore, it is also an excellent alternative to other inversion postures, such as shoulder stand or headstand, when these cannot be practiced for health reasons.

The posture opens the chest, strengthens the back and spine, and serves as both a strengthening and resting posture you can perform dynamically or restfully.

It is one of the essential poses in Hatha yoga and is usually practiced towards the end of the class after the spine has been warmed up through a series of exercises.

Energetically, the pose affects the heart chakra in the chest area (Anahata Chakra) and the throat chakra in the throat area (Vishuddha Chakra), which are activated in the process.

Is the Bridge Pose Suitable for Beginners?

The bridge pose is a good yoga exercise for beginners but equally for advanced practitioners.

Which Yoga Classes practice the Bridge Pose?

The bridge pose is a pose from Hatha yoga. Still, it is also practiced in other classes such as vinyasa, ashtanga, hormone, or as a restorative variation in yin yoga.

Preparatory Poses

To prepare for bridge pose, spinal mobilization exercises such as cat-cow, backbends such as the cobra, upward-facing dog, or the dynamic variation of bridge pose are suitable.

Follow-up Poses

Bridge pose is almost always practiced as a preparation for shoulder stand. It can also optimally prepare you for deeper backbends like the wheel pose.

Balasana (the child’s pose) or Paschimottanasana, the seated forward bend, is suitable as a balance. In some yoga classes, the bridge posture is also one of the last exercises before Shavasana, the final relaxation.

What Are the Benefits of the Bridge Pose?

The bridge pose strengthens the back of the body and stretches the front. It improves balance and posture and relieves back pain, menstrual cramps, and menopausal symptoms.

It also lowers high blood pressure and is therapeutic for arthritis. Since it opens the chest cavity, it combats respiratory problems.

Moreover, the pose helps reduce stress or sleep problems and has a calming effect on the brain, which recent studies support.

1. Increases Mobility

A study of women over 50 showed that yoga exercises, such as bridge pose, can increase spinal mobility and hamstring muscle flexibility regardless of age.

Researchers recommend yoga exercises to older people to make their muscles more flexible and increase joint mobility, essential for improving their quality of life (Grabara et al. 20151).

2. Improves Balance

In a recent study, a 16-week yoga practice that included Setu Bandha Sarvangasana improved balance in female college students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The researchers, therefore, concluded that yoga could be used as a primary form of home exercise for female college students (Luo et al. 20232).

3. Strengthens Muscles

People with intellectual and developmental disabilities break down functional fitness faster than others.

Practicing bridge pose could help these people significantly strengthen the upper and lower body in addition to flexibility and balance (Reina et al. 20203).

Similarly, a 12-week hatha yoga program that included Setu Bandha Sarvangasana could measurably strengthen.

Participants could use yoga to increase their performance in pull-ups, push-ups, and tests that included the lower back and posterior thigh muscles.

Women, not men, could also improve their resting heart rate (Lau et al. 20154).

4. Relieves Back Pain

According to an American study, performing yoga exercises, such as the bridge pose, is a cost-effective way to reduce pain and limitations in people suffering from chronic back pain (Colgrove et al. 20195).

5. Improves Posture

Researchers showed that an Ashtanga program that used the bridge pose can help people improve their posture (Jeter et al. 20156).

6. Supports Cancer Patients

About one-third of breast cancer survivors experience persistent fatigue months or years after completing treatment.

A 12-week yoga program that used two variations of bridge pose with yoga bolsters, and a bench reduced these symptoms of fatigue in a clinical trial (Bower et al. 20117).

A further study by the same researcher similarly shows a positive effect of bridge pose on stress, endurance, fatigue, and depressive symptoms in breast cancer patients (Bower et al. 20128).

Similarly, another recent study shows that the position can help young adult survivors of childhood cancer combat fatigue and reintegrate them socially at work (Evans et al. 20179).

7. Improves Sleep

Bridge pose has also been shown to be a valuable treatment for improving sleep quality and reducing the use of sleep medications in cancer survivors (Mustian et al. 201310).

A brand-new study also shows that this hatha exercise positively affects the psyche and quality of sleep in older adults (Baklouti et al. 202311).

8. Fights Hypertension

In addition to improved sleep quality and mood, Setu Bandha Sarvangasana was also found to help older women better regulate systolic and diastolic blood pressure (Innes et al. 201212).

9. Alleviates Arthritis

Young women with rheumatoid arthritis underwent a 6-week yoga program with the bridge pose.

Although the program was practiced only twice weekly, more than half of the participants saw clinically meaningful improvements in arthritis symptoms (Evans et al. 201313).

10. Reduces Menstrual Cramps

Recent studies show significant relief of menstrual pain with improved pain tolerance and reduced stress levels in women who practiced variations of bridge pose.

Regulation of stress pathways through yoga was key in regulating hormone balance and reducing menstrual cramps (Kanchibhotla et al. 202314).

How to Do the Bridge Pose Step by Step?

bridge pose
  1. Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart on the floor in front of you so that you can still reach your heels with your fingertips. Your knees are in a line above your ankles.
  2. Place your arms beside your torso, bringing your shoulder blades close together.
  3. With an inhalation, push your shoulders and feet evenly into the floor and lift your pelvis. Release your back from the mat one vertebra at a time.
  4. Draw your shoulder blades together and lift your sternum towards your chin. Actively press your feet onto the floor.
  5. Keep your arms at your sides, palms facing down, or cross your arms under your back.
  6. Avoid spreading your knees wide and dropping them outward by keeping your inner thighs parallel and tight.
  7. Keep the neck long and in a natural extension of the spine.
  8. Breathe evenly and hold the position for 5 to 15 breaths.
  9. If possible, raise your hips slightly for the last few breaths.
  10. To leave the posture, place your arms beside your torso, lower your hips, and mindfully roll your spine back to the floor as you exhale. Extend your legs before you and take a few moments to trace.

Common Mistakes

  • Keep the neck neutral and in a natural spine extension, and move the sternum toward the chin (rather than the chin toward the chest).
  • Don’t rotate the neck when going in and out, or stay in the posture.
  • Pay incredibly close attention to your knees. They should always be above the hocks. To prevent them from falling too far out, tighten your thighs and keep them parallel. You can also place a yoga block or a book between your thighs.

Expert Tips to Improve

  • Maintaining the natural arch of the neck is a crucial element in this pose. Do not press the neck flat on the mat. Your head rests only on the back of the head.
  • Do not turn your head to the side in this pose, and keep your gaze straight up toward the ceiling.
  • If you have an injury in your neck, you should not perform this pose.
  • As you cross your hands under your back, widen your chest and bring your upper arms under your shoulders. Actively push the stretched arms into the floor and let the upper arms rotate outward.
  • If you have taut shoulders or are uncomfortable with your hands crossed, place your arms palms next to your torso.

Bridge Pose Variations

  • Variation with yoga block: To prevent your knees from falling apart in the posture, use a yoga block that you clamp between your thighs. This way, you build strength in your thighs, keeping them parallel.
  • Relaxed bridge pose: Place the yoga block under your back to support your back and perform a relaxing variation of the bridge pose. Place it directly under your sacrum, and vary it from the lowest to the highest level, depending on what feels best for your body. Rest your back on the block.
  • Eka Pada Setu Bandhasana: For a little more challenge and to improve your stability, raise one leg vertically upward in the bridge pose. While doing this, press the sole of your foot flat toward the sky, hold for a few breaths, and then switch sides.
  • Dynamic variation: You can also practice the bridge pose dynamically in your breathing rhythm. With the inhalation, you raise the pelvis and, optionally, your arms over your head to the back. With the exhalation, you lower the pelvis (and arms) again. This variation is perfect for beginners, relieving tension, especially in the lower back.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the bridge pose good for?

The bridge pose significantly strengthens the body’s back and opens the chest area. It improves balance, posture, back pain, stress, sleep problems, and menstrual and menopausal symptoms. It is often practiced in yoga classes to prepare for more intense backbends or inversion postures.

Which muscles does the bridge pose work?

The bridge pose strengthens the glutes, back of the thighs, adductors, triceps, and back extensors. The pectoral muscle, straight and oblique abdominal muscles, lumbar muscle, biceps, and anterior thigh are stretched.

How long should you hold a bridge pose?

Hold the bridge pose for 5 to 15 deep breaths.


1Grabara, M., & Szopa, J. (2015). Effects of hatha yoga exercises on spine flexibility in women over 50 years old. Journal of Physical Therapy Science27(2), 361-365.

2Luo, X., & Huang, X. (2023). The effects of a yoga intervention on balance and flexibility in female college students during COVID-19: A randomized controlled trial. PLOS ONE18(3).

3Reina, A. M., Adams, E. V., Allison, C. K., Mueller, K. E., Crowe, B. M., & Schmid, A. A. (2020). Yoga for Functional Fitness in Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. International Journal of Yoga13(2), 156-159.

4Lau, C., Yu, R., & Woo, J. (2015). Effects of a 12-Week Hatha Yoga Intervention on Cardiorespiratory Endurance, Muscular Strength and Endurance, and Flexibility in Hong Kong Chinese Adults: A Controlled Clinical Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM2015.

5Colgrove, Y. M., Gravino-Dunn, N. S., Dinyer, S. C., Sis, E. A., Heier, A. C., & Sharma, N. K. (2019). Physical and Physiological Effects of Yoga for an Underserved Population with Chronic Low Back Pain. International Journal of Yoga12(3), 252-264.

6Jeter, P. E., Moonaz, S. H., Bittner, A. K., & Dagnelie, G. (2015). Ashtanga-Based Yoga Therapy Increases the Sensory Contribution to Postural Stability in Visually-Impaired Persons at Risk for Falls as Measured by the Wii Balance Board: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial. PLoS ONE10(6).

7Bower, J. E., Garet, D., & Sternlieb, B. (2011). Yoga for Persistent Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors: Results of a Pilot Study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM2011.

8Bower, J. E., Garet, D., Sternlieb, B., Ganz, P. A., Irwin, M. R., Olmstead, R., & Greendale, G. (2012). Yoga for persistent fatigue in breast cancer survivors: A randomized controlled trial. Cancer118(15), 3766.

9Evans, S., Seidman, L., Sternlieb, B., Casillas, J., Zeltzer, L., & Tsao, J. (2017). Clinical Case Report: Yoga for Fatigue in Five Young Adult Survivors of Childhood Cancer. Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology6(1), 96-101.

10Mustian, K. M., Sprod, L. K., Janelsins, M., Peppone, L. J., Palesh, O. G., Chandwani, K., Reddy, P. S., Melnik, M. K., Heckler, C., & Morrow, G. R. (2013). Multicenter, Randomized Controlled Trial of Yoga for Sleep Quality Among Cancer Survivors. Journal of Clinical Oncology31(26), 3233-3241.

11Baklouti, S., Fekih-Romdhane, F., Guelmami, N., Bonsaksen, T., Baklouti, H., Aloui, A., Masmoudi, L., Souissi, N., & Jarraya, M. (2023). The effect of web-based Hatha yoga on psychological distress and sleep quality in older adults: A randomized controlled trial. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice50, 101715.

12Innes, K. E., & Selfe, T. K. (2012). The Effects of a Gentle Yoga Program on Sleep, Mood, and Blood Pressure in Older Women with Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS): A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM2012.

13Evans, S., Moieni, M., Lung, K., Tsao, J., Sternlieb, B., Taylor, M., & Zeltzer, L. (2013). Impact of Iyengar yoga on quality of life in young women with rheumatoid arthritis. The Clinical Journal of Pain29(11), 988.

14Kanchibhotla, D., Subramanian, S., & Singh, D. (2023). Management of dysmenorrhea through yoga: A narrative review. Frontiers in Pain Research4.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.

Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.

Click on the links above to visit his author and about me pages.

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