Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
– Night An’Fey, Transformation of Energy
September marks the time of late summer, when the light begins to soften towards the golden warmth of autumn equinox, and the point of balance before the days wane toward winter darkness.
It is a good time to emphasize practices that are grounding and equalizing and poses that help to balance the expansive energy of summer as we drift into autumn, and yet, practices that keep us energized for the days of harvest ahead.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose) creates a “bridge” in this sequence of life and, not ironically, can serve as a transitional posture between groups of poses. For example, bridge pose will prepare the body for the deeper backbend, Urdhvadhanurasana (Upward Bow or Full Wheel). It can also be placed before or after Salamba Sarvangasana (Shoulder stand), which takes the body into an entirely different direction. We can also use this pose after twists or forward bends to help neutralize the sacrum.
Energetically, bridge pose will fuel our powers of digestion and integration, internalization and inspiration by opening the hips, belly and chest. It can also lead to regulation of the stress hormones and growth hormones by massaging the kidneys, thyroid and adrenals. And for those with chronic back pain, bridge can be the healing salve that strengthens the back, glutes and legs.
Lie on your back. Bend your knees and bring your feet the width of your hips and parallel to one another. As you inhale, lift your pelvis and spine up off the floor, keeping the natural curve in your low back.
Interlace your fingers, roll the flesh of your outer upper arms under and bring your shoulder blades in toward one another lightly.
Press firmly through the four corners of your feet; draw up through the arches of your feet. Activate your inner thighs by hugging the upper legs in, like you are squeezing a block between them.
Press your upper arms firmly into the floor and, on your breath in, lift your chest. You can press the very center of the back of your head lightly into the floor to prevent overstretching your neck. Relax your eyes and all your sense organs, and allow your breath to meet the shape of your body.
You’ll want to lengthen your low back and the front of your spine by gently drawing your navel in on your exhalations and letting your tail move toward the backs of your knees on your inhalations. You can activate the deep abdominal muscles on each exhale, but stay fluid with your bridge, letting the chest rise and the spine lengthen as you breath in.
Can you find the integration of opposing energies in your solar plexus? Work with subtle effort, keeping grounding action in your legs and arms as you deepen your sacrum and lift, spread and widen your sternum and collarbones. Turn your focus towards your chest and your heart space, watching the rise and fall of your breath. Listen to the sound of your breath as it swirls in your throat center.
Notice the part of you that is witnessing the movement of energy from your limbs to your spine, your belly, your chest, your throat and your third eye center. Let your awareness rest in these places, feeling the golden glow and vibration of prana.
When you are ready, slowly unclasp your hands and lower your spine to the floor. Rest on your back, bathing in the warmth of your own vital energy.
Chrisandra Fox Walker teaches weekly classes at Yoga Tree (click here for her schedule). She also leads The Heart of Renewal Retreats and teaches in Yoga Tree’s Teacher Trainings. Email Chrisandra@gmail.com
Photography by Ryan Scott