Camel Posture - Ustrasana

Ustrasana
(Camel Posture)

(oosh-TRAHS-anna)
ustra = camel

A rejuvenating yoga posture, Camel Posture allows for greater respiration by opening the chest and pelvic areas. Stretching the front of the body from knee to throat, yoga class with this yoga pose brings suppleness to the spine and lower back. While this yoga posture focuses on the spine, making it and the pelvis supple, it also opens the chest for greater breathing capacity and stretches the thighs and knees.

 

 


 

Benefits


Opens the front of the body, the ankles, thighs and groins, the abdomen and chest, and throat, and the deep hip flexors (psoas)

Strengthens back muscles

Improves posture

Stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck

This is a powerful posture for the spine and surrounding muscles

Contraindications/Cautions


High or low blood pressure

Migraine

Insomnia

Serious low back or neck injury

Performing the Asana


Kneel on the floor with your knees open hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Pull upwards through your thighs from the knees without hardening your buttocks. Relax your outer hips while pressing downwards through the base formed by your lower legs and feet.

Rest your hands on your lower back or hips, fingers pointing downwards, while you inhale and extend your torso upwards, lengthening through the spine. The pubis and hips will naturally press forward, but it should be a controlled movement by stabilizing your thighs. As your torso lengthens, press your shoulderblades inwards and down your back.

You may begin by extending one arm above your head, lifting the body, and arching backwards like a rainbow. Gently arch your head back while extending through the crown of the head towards your fingertips.

Keep the lower belly soft to relax the lower back and not compress the spinal column . Press both palms firmly against your soles, or heels if necessary, of your feet with the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. Keep your neck and throat relaxed and gently breathe.

Stay in this pose for several breaths. To exit, bring your hands onto the front or back of your pelvis. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. If your head is back, lead with the center of your chest to come up. Rest in Child's Pose for a few breaths.

Anatomical Focus


Ankles

Thighs

Groins

Belly

Chest

Spine

Shoulders

Neck

Therapeutic Applications


Respiratory ailments

Mild backache

Fatigue

Anxiety

Menstrual discomfort

Modify Your Practice


With a wall next to your toes, press your palms against the wall as you arch upwards and reach back with your hands.

For greater comfort transitioning into the camel pose, place a blanket pad your knees and shins with a thickly folded blanket.

Complimentary Yoga Poses


Bhujangasana - Cobra Stretch
Dhanurasana - Bow Asana
Salabhasana - Locust Position
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana - Bridge Asana
Supta Virasana - Reclining Hero Stretch
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana - Upwards Facing Dog Pose
Virasana - Hero Pose

Tips for Beginners


Beginners very often aren't able to touch their hands to their feet without straining their back or neck. Position the blocks just outside of each heel, and stand them at their height to place the palms of your hands on, or use a stoll or 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.

Intermediates, may tuck your toes under and elevate your heels for less distance necessary to arch fully.. If this doesn't work, the next thing to do is to rest each hand on a block.

Deepen the Pose


For a deeper challenge, perform the pose with your thighs, calves, and inner feet touching.

Partner Practice


A partner can also help you work with your neck and head in this pose. Your partner should stand directly behind you as you perform Camel. Bring your head into its natural position without tightening the muscles. Have your partner support the back of your head with the palm of their hand, and press his other hand on your upper back, between the shoulder blades. Press your shoulder blades inwards and down the back. Let your neck lengthen between these two actions. When comfortable,, have your partner carefully remove his hands as you drop your head back.