Ustra means camel. In this pose, the back is arched. The round shape created by the front side of the body resembles a camel’s hump.
Benefits of Camel Pose
- Strengthens the gluteal, hamstring and lower back muscles.
- Stretches and opens the muscles of the hips, solar plexus, and chest.
- Massages internal organs such as the kidneys, adrenal glands as well as the thyroid and thymus gland.
- Modifications might be necessary for people who suffer from knee, shoulder or back pain.
- This pose should be avoided by people suffering from neck injury, heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke.
- Camel pose is contraindicated for people who are hypermobile in the lower back, suffering from acute muscle spasms in the back, or have spinal stenosis or spondylolisthesis.
- Start kneeling with the knees hip width apart and the torso standing tall. Curl your toes under.
- Bring your hands to your lower back (for support) and begin to slowly extend the spine.
- As you lengthen through the crown of the head, move the other hand back to the heel on the same side.
- Start by bringing one hand to the ankle on the same side and reaching the other arm out to the sky. Switch to the other side. If this feels challenging, stay with this version of the pose.
- Reach one hand back and then the other, pinching your heels with your thumb and pointer finger.
- Create as much space between your vertebrae as you can by engaging the abdominals and the deep muscles of the spine to create space between the vertebrae.
- Hug the muscles around the thigh bones to support the knees.
- Feel all your Bandhas engage as you press your hips forward and create more space between your hips and ribcage.
- Widen across your chest and engage the muscles between the shoulder-blades. Open the chest still further.
- Avoid dropping the head back. Create an even arc with the spine. The neck stays in line with that arc.
- Feel that your jaw, eyes, cheeks, and forehead are soft.
- Extend and create space between the femur and the hip sockets on the front side of the body.
- Feel your gluteal muscles draw subtly and energetically toward your hamstrings, lengthening your lower back.
- For more of a challenge, bring the tops of your feet flat on your mat. Press down into the earth with the shins and tops of the feet. Lift the ribcage up and out of the hips.
- Contract your abdominals to support your spine.
- Reach one arm forward, engage your abdominals, and lift the torso back up tall.