Ustrasana- What You Need To Know
Ustrasana- What You Need To Know
Sitting down all day in the office can create a humped back. We stare at computer screens and lean over keyboards for long hours which can lead to a bad body posture and a droop in the shoulders. It can build up backache, stiff spines, and quite often full-fledged body pain. Extended hours of sitting can cause the hip flexors to shorten over time which makes it hard to do backbends once they are short and tight. It also changes our lower back curve to a less favourable flat back.
Ustrasana, also known as the Camel Pose counters all of that by opening the front of the body, expanding the chest, and stretching the back muscles in the opposite direction to all that computer work. This pose is also helpful during the long flights to relieve achy back from sitting in those awful seats on the plane and trains. This pose stretches the front of the body: the ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen, chest, and throat.
The Sanskrit word “Ustra” means “Camel” and the word “asana” is translated to as the “pose”. It is pronounced as OOHS-tra-AA-SUN-aa.
The Camel Pose or Ustrasana is a back- bending yoga posture of an intermediate level. It is known to open the fourth primary Chakra of our body- Anahita Chakra or the Heart Chakra. This posture adds strength and flexibility to the entire body and also helps in improving digestion.
The Pose- Step by Step Instructions
- Sit on your yoga mat in a tall kneeling position, with your shin knees and feet on the floor. If not comfortable, keep them hip-width apart. You can use a towel or pleat your mat under your knees for comfort. Keep your thighs perpendicular to the floor and your knees in line with the shoulders.
- Place your hands into the lower back or on the hips. Fingers should be pointing down with the thumbs behind.
- Now inhale and open up your chest and squeeze the shoulder back. Draw in your tailbone towards the area of pubis as if being pulled from the navel. Make sure your front groins don’t “puff” forward.
- Arc backward and slide your palms over your feet till the arms are straight. Pivot from every vertebra in the back, working up from the lumbar, drawing in and up every bone from the one below. Keep the back of the neck and lower back long. Imagine leaning backward over a large ball that supports your spine.
- Remember, do not strain or flex your neck but keep it in a neutral position. The spine must be at such a height that it moves in and up and over with equal priority. With each exhale, gently push your thighs, hips, abdomen, and chest further forward and upward.
- Evenly spread your body weight through arms and legs. Try to stay in this position for a couple of breaths. If you feel any difficulty or breathing is not natural, go back to a less intense version of the Camel Pose where you breathe comfortably.
- To exit, bring your hands at the hip points, onto the front of your pelvis. Straighten up by inhaling and lift the head and torso by pushing the hip points down, towards the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to straighten up.
- Rest in Child’s Pose or Savasana for a few breaths.
Place a cushion below your knees to ease your way into the posture.
- The stretch at the abdominal area improves digestion.
- Increases the strength of the muscles that keep you upright, i.e. the spinal erector.
- Helpful in preventing future backache.
- Alleviates negative emotions, increasing zest for life.
- Opens up the Heart Chakra, to foster love and compassion for self and others.
- Frees tension and energy flow in the pelvic area.
Before you practice the Camel Pose, consider the following points:
- If you have a back or a neck injury, perform this pose under the supervision of a yoga instructor.
- If you are pregnant, avoid this pose. Also, in the case of high or low blood pressure avoid this posture.
- Abstain from this practice if you are suffering from inflamed sacroiliac joint and until the inflammation has passed. We recommend you consult an experienced teacher.
- If you feel a pinch like sensation in the lower back, the focus should be to draw in and up from the point where the pressure is felt to drive the work up the back.
- To support the pose, the core muscle of the abdominal sheath should be developed.
- The movement should begin at the hip joints and proceed from there upwards.
- Instead of the floor, the hands can be lowered to blocks.
We hope that you love the Camel pose and its benefits and use it to help you keep your body tall and strong. If there is anything, you would like to know more drop your questions in the comment box below.
We love hearing how you get on with this pose.