Comparing Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana and Salamba Viparita Dandasana: A Guide

Comparing Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana and Salamba Viparita Dandasana: A Guide

It was always difficult for me to know which bench to use—Viparita Dandasana or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana—until I understood that these poses are replacements for Sarvangasana (with its closed throat position) and Sirsasana (with its extended neck). Understanding this connection helped clarify their roles in my practice and how to approach each pose with confidence.

Understanding Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, commonly referred to as Supported Bridge Pose, is a rejuvenating backbend that stretches the spine, chest, and neck. This pose is renowned for its ability to alleviate stress, mild depression, and fatigue, while simultaneously calming the mind. In the context of Iyengar yoga, it often serves as a precursor to more advanced inversions, offering similar benefits without the full inversion.

Variations with Props

  1. setu bandha sarvangasana with yoga blocks

    Using Two Yoga Blocks: Placing one block under the pelvis and another under the feet enhances pelvic lift and provides lower back support. This variation facilitates a deeper stretch in the spine and chest, promoting greater flexibility and openness.

  2. Wood Bench and Viparita Karani Box: The wood bench, combined with a Viparita Karani box, offers optimal support for the pose. Placing the bench against a wall and positioning the Viparita Karani box on top creates a stable foundation, enhancing comfort and alignment.
  3. setu bandha sarvangasana bench
    Crossed Bolsters: Utilizing crossed bolsters beneath the sacrum elevates the pelvis, fostering a gentle opening in the chest and shoulders. This setup emphasizes stability and support while encouraging proper alignment and extension.

Exploring Salamba Viparita Dandasana

Salamba Viparita Dandasana, or Supported Inverted Staff Pose, is a dynamic backbend that stimulates the nervous system and improves posture. This pose offers a profound opening in the chest and shoulders, making it an excellent alternative to Sirsasana, particularly for individuals menstruating or those with neck or shoulder sensitivities.

Variations with Props

  1. viparita dandasana bench

    Crossed Yoga Bolsters: Crossing two bolsters and placing them under the back provides a gentle, supported inversion that opens the chest and stretches the spine without excessive strain.

  2. Snail-Shaped Viparita Dandasana Wood Bench: This unique bench shape accommodates the curvature of the spine, allowing practitioners to deepen their backbend safely and effectively. Adding bolsters or yoga blankets to support the shoulders and head ensures a gentle and restorative practice.

  3. viparita dandasana on chair

    Yoga Chair Variation: Using a yoga chair, place two yoga blocks against the wall for your feet. Position yourself so that your hands hold the legs of the chair, providing stability. For added comfort, you can place a bolster on the chair seat. This setup offers excellent support and encourages a deeper backbend and chest opening while maintaining proper alignment and safety.

The Position of the Neck in Sarvangasana

In Sarvangasana, or Shoulder Stand, it’s essential to maintain proper neck alignment to avoid strain. This position stimulates the throat chakra (Vishuddha), which is associated with communication and expression. Ensuring the neck is long and free from compression helps to activate this energy center, promoting clarity and balance.

Menstruation Considerations

Both Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana and Salamba Viparita Dandasana serve as viable alternatives to more intense inversions during menstruation. These poses offer similar benefits without the risk of excessive abdominal pressure or inversion-related complications. It's crucial to honor the body's needs and modify the poses accordingly to ensure a safe and comfortable practice.

Conclusion

Salamba Setu Bandha Sarvangasana and Salamba Viparita Dandasana stand as invaluable additions to any yoga repertoire, offering profound benefits for physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Through thoughtful exploration and utilization of props and variations, practitioners can deepen their understanding and experience of these transformative poses, both on and off the mat.

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Bonus: Video Tutorial

For a visual guide, I include a video by Senior Iyengar teacher Eyal Shifroni, demonstrating how to adapt each pose with crossed yoga bolsters. This resource can help enhance your practice and ensure proper alignment and support.

A big thank you to Ioga Sants Connecta´t (yoga in Sants, Barcelona) and Ioga Iyengar Sitges (Iyengar yoga in Sitges, Barcelona) for letting me use the photos.

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