This asana, popularly called the Camel Pose, is an intermediate level backward bend. Ustra means camel in Sanskrit, and this pose resembles a camel. It is known to open up the heart chakra, adds flexibility and strength to the body and also helps in improving digestion. This asana is also commonly referred to as the Ushtrasana.
What You Should Know Before You Do The Asana
This asana must be performed on an empty stomach. You must have your meals at least four to six hours before you practice yoga. You must also make sure that your bowels are empty. Do not practice this pose if you are currently experiencing high or low blood pressure, insomnia, or a migraine. Also avoid this pose if you have a low back or neck injury. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
How To Do The Ustrasana : Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Begin the asana by kneeling on your mat and placing your hands on your hips.
2. You must ensure that your knees and shoulders are in the same line, and the soles of your feet are facing the ceiling.
3. Inhale, and draw your tailbone in towards your pubis. You must feel the pull at the navel.
4. While you are doing that, arch your back. Gently slide your palms over your feet and straighten your arms.
5. Keep your neck in a neutral position. It should not be strained.
6. Hold the position for about 30 to 60 seconds before you release the pose.
When practiced correctly, Ustrasana can benefit the whole body. Keep the following information in mind when practicing this pose:
- When practicing backbends, it is crucial to create length between your vertebrae, being careful not to collapse or crunch into the pose. Keep your pelvis stable as you lift and lengthen your sternum toward the sky.
- Take the pose slowly, only going as deep as your body will allow without pain.
- Gently draw your tailbone forward while pressing the front of your thighs back. This counter-action will stabilize your pelvis as you lift and lengthen your spine, instead of compressing your spine when you lean back.
- To learn the alignment of your thighs, hips, and pubic bone, practice the pose while facing a wall. Kneel with your thighs touching the wall and press your pubic bone toward the wall. As you come into the backbend, lean back only as far as you can while keeping your thighs pressing against the wall. Do not let your thighs shift away from the wall just so you can grab your heels — it is more important to keep your hips over your knees than it is to touch your heels.
- Be careful not to bring your head so far back that you strain your neck. Keep your neck extended and comfortable throughout the pose.
Beginners very often aren’t able to touch their hands to their feet without straining their back or neck. First, try to turn your toes under and elevate your heels. If this doesn’t work, the next thing to do is to rest each hand on a block. Position the blocks just outside each heel, and stand them at their highest height (usually about 9 inches). If you’re still having difficulty, get a chair. Kneel for the pose with your back to the chair, with your calves and feet below the seat and the front edge of the seat touching your buttocks. Then lean back and bring your hands to the sides of the seat or high up on the front chair legs.
Modifications & Variations
Try these simple changes to find a variation that works for you:
- If it is difficult for you to touch your hands to your feet, tuck your toes to elevate your heels.
- If it is still difficult to reach your feet, place your hands on yoga blocks positioned outside of each foot.
- To deepen the pose, squeeze a block between your thighs.
- For an even greater challenge, press your thighs, calves, and inner feet together throughout the pose.
- For a greater opening in the chest, shoulders, and arms, cross your forearms and take hold of the opposite ankles.
Benefits Of Ustrasana
- This asana helps improve digestion as it massages the internal organs.
- It opens up the chest and frontal portions of the torso.
- It strengthens the back and the shoulders.
- It helps alleviate pain in the lower back.
- It makes the spine more flexible and also helps in the betterment of your posture.
- It relieves menstrual discomfort.
Ustrasana can be an emotionally moving and energizing yoga posture. It is vital to listen to your body throughout the pose. If your breath becomes short and strained, ease up a bit. Keep your thoughts calm and steady by returning your awareness to your breath and the present moment. Like a camel, Ustrasana can take you on a journey to new and foreign parts of yourself.