January 07, 2018 2 min read

Camel Pose: Ustrasana

Purposes and Benefits:

  • Relieves back problems by compressing spine
  • Stimulates nervous system
  • Improves neck flexion
  • Flushes blood through kidneys
  • Promotes elimination of toxins
  • Opens shoulders, rib cage, lungs, and digestive system
  • Strengthens back and shoulder muscles
  • Invigorates and improves flexibility of neck and spine–especially thoracic spine
  • Extends throat, thyroid gland, and parathyroid glands
  • Helps cure constipation by stretching abdominal organs
  • Slims abdomen and waistline

How to Do:
(NOTE: If you feel dizzy during this pose, keep pushing your hips forward and remember to breathe. The backward bend causes a change in blood pressure, which can result in dizziness.)

  • Start with knees on floor and maintain 6 inches of space between knees and feet
  • Support spine by placing hands on back of hips with fingers pointing down
  • Keep elbows drawing in towards one another and let shoulders roll back
  • Inhale while lifting chest, and exhale while dropping head back
  • Inhale again while lifting chest, use hands to support spine, and exhale while arching torso back farther
  • Keep chest lifted throughout pose to minimize compression in lower back
  • Ensure that hips are forward and lined up above knees by doing these: Bring right hand down to grab right heel and left hand down to grab left heel; Put thumbs on outside of feet and place fingers on soles
  • Maintain tight grip on feet so you can push hips forward
  • If hips collapse back and you sink into spine as you grab heels, keep hands on hips and keep lifting chest
  • Keep arching spine back and work hips forward while lengthening tailbone down toward floor
  • Continue lifting chest to ensure that body weight hasn’t sunk back into heels and hands
  • If you’re feeling anxiety/fear, relax and breathe; breathing can also help you go more deeply into pose
  • (NOTE: If you have high blood pressure or any heart condition, please do the next step, which is holding the pose, for only 5 seconds. With more practice, you can gradually ease into the hold and increase the time.)
  • Breathe deeply as you hold pose for 20 seconds, and allow heart to open and lift
  • Reverse out of pose by bringing right hand to right hip, and then bring left hand to left hip
  • Press knees down and use abdominal strength to lift and straighten up spine