Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)
In Sanskrit, “ustra” means camel and “asana” means pose, hence the English name.
The best part of this camel pose is that, when performed correctly, nearly all the major muscles of our bodies are being stretched. In addition, it stimulates and tones many of our limbs, including the chest, abdomen, and thighs. In short, the front side of our bodies are getting fully involved.
Getting into Camel Pose:
- First sit in kneeling on the floor or a yoga mat. If your knees are sensitive, kneel on extra padding.
- Make sure your knees are hip width apart and thighs are perpendicular to the floor.
- The soles of your feet should face upward, toenails touching the floor.
- Now, place your palms on your hips and try to keep your outer hips as soft as possible. Breathe deeply.
- Use your hands to lengthen your back pelvis and draw the tailbone towards the pubis.
- Begin to arc your back.
- Withdraw your arms one at a time from your hips and place them on your heels. Press your palms firmly against your heels to keep from losing your balance.
- Turn your arms outward so that the elbow creases face forward.
- Arch your back until your arms are straight. Imagine that there is a string tied around your waist that pulls you upward towards the sky.
- If you find it difficult to keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor, try tilting the thighs backward individually as you touch hand to heel, using entirely the left or right side limbs.
- Press each thigh back into perpendicular position before joining the opposite hand and heel. Furthermore, if you cannot touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and raise your heels.
- You can keep your neck at a neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. Be careful not to strain your neck or tighten your throat. Maintain this posture for 30 seconds to a minute. Breathe calm and deep.
Benefits of Camel Pose:
Ustrasana is a yoga posture that adds flexibility and strength to the body and also helps in improving digestion.
- Relieves lower back pain
- Helps to heal and balance the chakras
- Strengthens thighs and arms
- Improves flexibility, especially in the spine
- Stimulates endocrine glands
- Reduces fat on thighs
- Opens up the hips, stretching deep hip flexors
- Stretches and strengthens the shoulders and back
- Expands the abdominal region, improving digestion and elimination
- Improves posture
- Opens the chest, improving respiration
- Loosens up the vertebrae
Caution: Don’t collapse in your neck area. Consult a doctor before beginning an exercise regime.
Note that beginners should only hold this posture for about 20 seconds to avoid straining anything.