22 Jul a week of Setu Bandha
Last week, my chosen “every day” pose was Setu Bandha Sarvangasana. I picked this pose for two reasons: I don’t particularly like it and I felt like my psoas, quadratus lumborum and erector spinae muscles were tight. I hoped in picking Setu Bandha to develop a greater appreciation for this backbending pose, and I wanted a pose to practice to help measure by daily comparison my greater opening in these muscles.
The absolutely fascinating thing about choosing this pose is how, more than any other of my recent “every day” poses, it turned into an “all day” pose. Choosing Setu Bandha got me to focus on my psoas in lots of other poses and positions, from Supta Pandangusthasana to my walking gait. Knowing that I was working on Setu Bandha, I was more attentive to the negative effects of sitting on my psoas, so I was fairly religious about setting a 20-minute timer, to signal me that it was time to stand up for a moment, whenever I knew I would be sitting for any length of time. I can’t tell you how much this helped with the achey low back I can get from sitting. In Supta Padangusthasana, I gave just as much attention to the length of the psoas for the leg on the floor as I did the length of the hamstrings in the raised leg. Any time I was standing or walking, I focused on finding the lift of the bottom of the belly and the ASIS (the anterior superior iliac spine or, colloquially, the frontal hip bones) as I rooted down through the heels, feeling quadratus lumborum and the erector spinae muscles respond by lengthening. And in Setu Bandha, I practiced the feeling of lifting the bottom of the belly towards my sternum while lifting the sacrum, towards the coccyx and towards the sky.
As the week passed, I felt greater opening in the psoas, quadratus lumborum and erector spinae muscles. My hips stayed fairly well-balanced for the week as well. But there were deeper benefits to picking this pose. With a longer psoas, I didn’t lean forward at the hips as much when I walked. I let the legs move from the hip sockets while keeping my belly lifted. As a result, I felt less rushed and more grounded in the present moment as I walked. I also felt taller and as a result, more confident and calmer whenever I stood or walked. And as the week progressed, I felt less and less resistance towards Setu Bandha. My aversion towards the pose lessened considerably. All in all, I got much more out of this pose than I expected. I’m grateful I chose it for my “every day” pose this week.