Ustrasana (Camel Pose)

Ustrasana (pronounced oosh-trahs-anna) is a back bending asana that is stimulating and invigorating due to the way it expands the chest and encourages deep breathing.

🌟 Sanskrit

Ustra – camel
Asana – seat/ pose

🌟 Philosophy & Origin

Camel pose is so named because the shape resembles the hump on a camel’s back. Camels are known for their slow, steady, almost rhythmical way of moving. Rather than trying to race into the posture, moving slowly and methodically will enable you to come in and out of the posture with ease and poise.

🌟 Physical Benefits

Stretches the neck, chest, abdomen, thighs, hip flexors, groin and ankles.

Strengthens the back, glutes and triceps.

Improves overall posture by counteracting rounding of the shoulders caused by prolonged periods at a desk/ PC. Aids decompression of the spinal vertebrae.

🌟 Energetic Benefits

Stimulates manipura (solar plexus), anahata (heart) and vishuddha (throat) chakras.

🌟 Step by Step

  1. Begin kneeling at the top of your mat – knees should be positioned under your hips. Keep your shins parallel to each other. Feet can be flat to the ground or toes can be tucked. Do what feels most comfortable for you.
  2. Place your hands on your lower sacrum (lower back) with your fingers pointing down towards your buttocks.
  3. Engage your glutes, keep pressing your thighs forwards and as you inhale start lifting your chest and drawing your shoulders backwards.
  4. Find extension through your back by opening up your chest and trying to press your shoulder blades down into your back.
  5. Begin to lean backwards without dropping your head. Keep your chin close to your chest.
  6. Once you’ve extended as far as you can, you have the option to reach back with one hand at a time to find your feet. Your hands will rest on your heels if your toes are tucked. Otherwise, they will rest on the soles of your feet.
  7. Use your hands against your feet to lift more through your chest with each inhalation. At this point, you can choose to take your head back or keep your head supported in a more neutral position. Again, do what feels most comfortable for you and don’t strain.
  8. Hold for up to 60 seconds. To release the pose, return your hands to your sacrum and on an inhalation slowly bring yourself upright supporting your back as you come up. Lead with your chest, head coming up last.
  9. Sit your hips on your heels for a few deep breaths to integrate the energy of the pose.

🌟 Modifications & Helpful Hints

Keep your toes tucked rather than placing the tops of your feet flat on the floor.

You may want to place a folded blanket under your knees for extra cushioning.

Keep your hands on your lower back rather than reaching back for your heels to work on proper alignment as you explore camel pose.

Try pressing your thighs and hips against a wall to keep the lower body in proper alignment.

Try placing a block between your thighs and squeeze your thighs into the block – this aids internal rotation of the inner thighs.

Prep Poses:

Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
Dhanurasana (Bow pose)
Salabhasana (Locust pose)

Follow Up Poses:

Counterposes:
Dandasana (Staff Pose)
Balasana (Childs Pose)