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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ustrasana - Camel Yoga Pose

Ustrasana is also kwown as Camel yoga pose. This asana belongs to the category of should be practiced after practicing Vajrasana. Ustraasana, i.e. camel pose - can simply be described as kneeling backbend. Camel Pose is a progression from the simpler prone backbend like Dhanuranasa (Bow Pose).

Procedure for doing Ustrasana - Camel Yoga Pose

  1. To prepare for this medium-level backbend, do 3 smaller backbends to safely prepare your spine. Start with Bidalasana, or Cat's Breath: come to hands and knees on your yoga mat. Check that your shoulders are directly over your wrists and hips over the knees. Inhale, draw your chest forward as you gently arch your lower back and look up towards the ceiling. Exhale, draw your chin towards your throat and round your upper back. Repeat for 5 to 7 more rounds.
  2. Now, lie on your belly and flatten the feet so that the tops of the feet are on the mat. Interlace your hands behind you and lift the chest off the mat, pointing your chin towards your throat. Draw your chest forward as you extend the legs back. This is a variation of Shalambasana. Repeat 2 more times.
  3. Next, lift both feet and extend your hands to the side like wings, your feet and arms just an inch or two hovering above the floor. Extend in every direction. Lower down to rest. Next bring your arms forward and lift both feet and lengthen through the hands and feet. Lower down to rest. This work will create strength and flexibility in long muscles that lie on either side of the spine, called erector spinae.
  4. Low cobra next will further strengthen muscles of the upper back. Place your hands flat by the side ribs that the elbows are directly over the wrist and magnetize the elbows towards each other. Lift the chest and shoulders off the mat: drawing the sternum forward and moving the shoulders back. The feet remain on the floor. Lower down to rest. Repeat.
  5. For the final pose, come up to kneel on your mat, cushioning the knees by using a blanket or towel to cushion the knee. Like Low Cobra, expand the chest and widen the collarbones. Place your hands on the low back to lift the center of the sacrum (low back) forward, to avoid rounding your low back or arching it excessively. Inhale and lift chest and lean back until you can place your hands on your heels.
  6. Continue to lift the chest up out of the low back and breathe for several breaths. To exit, lift the chest up and cross the legs to sit on the hips in Sukhasana. Rest for several breaths. If your hands could not reach your heels, curl the toes under. Or, place 2 lightweight foam yoga blocks so that one is by each foot. When you lean back, place your hands on the blocks. Engage the core abdominal muscles to return to an upright position.

Benefits of Ustrasana - Camel Yoga Pose

Ustrasana helps with digestion. It improves flexibility of your spine and opens your throat as it strengthens your neck muscles and increases blood flow to your brain. This can also be good fro asthma and similar respiratory issues. While it may not seem obvious you are also strengthening both your abdomen and rectal muscles. A side benefit here is that it helps your sphincter muscle close, which can prevent hemorrhoids as it maintains bowel moisture. Who can argue with that?

Precautions with Ustrasana - Camel Yoga Pose

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Migraine
  • Insomnia
  • Serious low back or neck injury

Ustrasana - Camel Yoga Pose Video