By Mercedes Aspland
This is the second article in our yoga central series and today we will be looking at a pose known as camel pose or Ustrasana. We will look at how to properly carry out the pose, the benefits you can get from it and anything that you need to consider before beginning. Please read the entire article before trying the pose.
How to Carry Out the Pose
Although the name may make you feel this will be a simple pose to carry out, it may not be the case if you spend most of your day sitting so take it slowly at first. Below we have put together step by step instructions on how to carry out this pose successfully:
1. Begin the pose by kneeling on the floor with the thighs straight up and the knees hip width apart. Turn your thighs in slightly and narrow your hips. Firm but do not harden your bottom and imagine you are pulling your sitting bones up into your body. Firm your shins and the top of your feet against the floor.
2. Place your hands on your bottom with the base of the palms at the top of the bottom and the fingers facing down to the floor. Press the tail forward but make sure your pelvis does not push out. To help stop this from happening press your thighs back. As you inhale lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against the back.
3. Lean back against the tail bone and shoulder blades leaving your head so that your chin is near your chest. If you are new to this pose then this is probably where you should stay. Alternatively you can lower your hands to your feet. If you need to your can lower one hand, slightly twisting your body and then when you come back to a straight position you can lower the other hand. If this action causes your back to compress then you should lift your heels by turning your toes under.
4. Make sure your lower ribs aren’t sticking out as this can cause the belly to harden and the back to compress. Lift the front ribs up from the pelvis and then lift the back ribs away from the pelvis to lengthen the lower back. Press your hands against the soles of your feet with the base of the palms on the heels of the feet and the fingers pointing towards the toes. Turn the arms so the elbows face forward by squeezing the shoulder blades. You can leave your head in a neutral position or drop it back but be careful not to strain the neck.
5. Stay in this pose for 30-60 seconds. To come out put your hands on the front of your pelvis and roll up leading with your heart. Push back into child pose and rest for a short while.
Tips and Precautions
You should not practise this pose if you suffer from either high or low blood pressure. In addition you should avoid this pose if your suffer from migraines or insomnia or if you have any injuries to your neck or back.
Many beginners to this pose can find it difficult to get their hands on their feet without straining their back. There are a number of things you can do to help. Firstly try raising your heels but if this is still no good you can try resting to blocks at their highest just outside your feet and leaning back on them. If you find this difficult then you can use a chair. Place the chair over the shins and rest the seat against the bottom and lean back on the chair.
Benefits and Focus
The pose will help to stretch out the front of the body, the ankles, thighs and groins as well as strengthening the lower back. It can help to improve posture as well as stimulating the organs in the abdomen and neck. Therapeutically this pose can help with a number of respiratory ailments as well as mild backache, fatigue, anxiety and menstrual cramps.