Ustrasana - Camel Pose
Ustrasana (pronounced as oosh-TRAHS-anna) is a back bending asana practiced in Hatha yoga. It is an extreme back bending exercise that stretches most parts of the body. The name Ustrasana is derived from the words ustra meaning camel and asana meaning posture. It, therefore, translates to Camel pose in English. The Asana is also part of the 26 asanas practiced in Bikram yoga.
Ustrasana Step by Step
Step 1: Kneel with your body upright and hips over the knees. You can place a folded mattress under the knees if they are painful or sensitive.
Step 2: Lift your hands up towards your armpits until you stack your thumbs in the armpits. Using your hands for support, lift your chest upwards and towards the ceiling.
Step 3: When you have attained the maximum position of the chest maintain it there and move your hands back one at a time to grasp the heels of your feet. You may have the top of your feet flat on the floor or you can raise them with the toes just so you are able to reach them.
Step 4: Move your hips forward so that they are under the knees. Bring your head back so that it opens your throat. Do not force yourself to go back if it is not comfortable for you.
Step 5: Hold the position for set time. Release by bringing your chin forward towards your chest and your hands to the hips. Bring your body upwards to an upright position using the core muscles for support.
You can use the wall to help you do the pose. Start with your back to a wall and the toes under so that your soles are against the wall. When lowering to the back, move your head towards the wall so that it rests on the wall. Use the wall for support to further lower your upper torso backwards so that the pose is easy on the neck.
Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana, Set Bandha, Supta virasana, Virasana, Salabhasana
Follow up poses
Dandasana, Dhanurasana, Setu bandha sarvangasana, Sirsasana, Virasana, Urdhva dhanurasana
Stretches the entire front of the body (neck, abdomen, thighs)
Stretches the ankles, groins, chest, and throat.
Strengthens the back
Stretches the spine
Stretches the deep hip flexors
Stimulates abdominal organs.
Nasagrae – nose tip
For the experienced and highly flexible yogis you can lower your back so that your head is in between your knees. This is an extreme back bending position that many people are not able to achieve. You can also make it harder by trying to do the pose with the thighs, calves and inner feet touching.
Practiced in Hatha yoga, Ashtanga vinyasa and Bikram yoga and more
Back bending, kneeling pose
It might be really difficult to reach your heels and attain the complete position at first. You can place a seat at your back and lower yourself on it. Hold on to the back legs of the seat and pull yourself as low as you are able to go.
Ensure that your neck is not overstretched as this pose can be quite stressing on the neck.