"By drawing our senses of perception inwards, we are able to experience the control, silence, and quietness of the mind,” said B.K.S. Iyengar in “Light on Life.” Yin yoga is all about going inward.
According to B.K.S. Iyengar, backbends stimulate the adrenals. “Backbends are rejuvenating. They give energy and courage and combat depression. They open the chest and make the spine flexible. The arms and shoulders become strong. The mind and body become alert.”
Holding poses for longer periods of time, and relaxing the muscles are some of the central points of Yin Yoga. Hence, Yin should be introspective. By placing a block under your sacrum, your shoulder bones and feet gently support your bridge. As a result, you can rest longer in this backbend.
Bernie Clark, a Yin master, explains why we add a block for supported bridge in Yin Yoga. “… the magic of Yin Yoga is time: we linger long in the delirious delicacy of the postures. Props can assist in lengthening the lingering. The intention in Yin Yoga is to arrive at an appropriate edge and stay…”
The pose should be done with the chin lock (jalandhara bandha) which stimulates the thyroid. Depending on the flexibility of your back, you can place the block flat (horizontally) under the sacrum, standing on its side, or standing vertically. To exit the pose, I encourage my students to lower the block (i.e. turning it to the side or flat) before removing it completely.
For more about the benefits of Yin Yoga in general, visit my blog spot, www.TheNamasteCounsel.com/yoga-blog, and enter the words Yin Yoga in the search window.
The traditional hatha version of the bridge, called setu bandhasana, uses no props. In Sanskrit, setu is a bridge or causeway and bandha is an energetic lock or bind. This is a supine backbend that strengthens the core and quadriceps. With the knees bent, and soles of the feet planted firmly, hip distance apart, the hips lift high. Knees should be about two fists width apart, and fingertips should reach the back of the heels.
As mentioned in my book, "From the Boxing Room to the Ashram," Dr. Loren Fishman, a leading yogi physician recommends yoga backbends like the bridge to relieve discomfort associated with herniated disks.
As always, consult your yoga therapist, medical practitioner, or physical therapist to determine which poses are best suited for your particular needs.