Looking for a beginner backbend that you can take at your own pace? Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) lets you control the depth of the bend as you turn your back into a bridge between your shoulders and feet. Best of all, the pose quiets the mind, energizes the legs, improves digestion, and can relive headaches.
Here's how to get into this pose:
Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Separate your feet to hip distance and point your toes slightly in so that your feet are parallel. Draw your heels in toward your hips until they almost touch. Straighten your arms along your sides with the palms down. Take a deep inhale. As you exhale, press the palms into the floor and begin to lift the hips off the floor. Keep the shoulders down as you breathe into an appropriate position. You can take a shallow bend by lifting the hips only a foot or so off the floor, or a deeper bend by sending the hips as far to the sky as possible. Your palms can stay on the floor or you can roll onto your shoulders and interlace your fingers underneath your hips. As you breathe, lift your chest toward your chin and reach your knees away from your hips. Be sure to maintain the natural curve of the neck against the floor. Remain for five to ten breaths, then lower back to the floor and rest.
Over time, as the spine opens and relaxes, you may want to lift the hips higher to the sky. Whatever version of the pose you select, enjoy the blissful feeling of stretching and opening the chest.