Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
This asana is also known as the camel pose. This asana is performed as follows;
- Sit on the floor in Dandasana.
- Kneel placing your knees hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Rotate your thighs slightly inwards, narrow your hip points, and firm but don't harden your buttocks.
- Keep the outer portion of hips as soft as possible. Press your shins and the tops of your feet firmly into floor.
- Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, placing the base of palms on the tops of the buttocks, with fingers pointing down. Use your hands to spread the back pelvis and lengthen it down through your tail bone.
- Now lightly firm the tailbone forward, toward the pubis. Make sure though that your front groins don't "puffs" forward. To prevent this, press your front thighs back, countering the forward action of your tail. Inhale and lift your heart by pressing the shoulder blades against your back ribs.
- Now lean backwards against the firmness of the tail bone and shoulder blades. For a while keep your head up, chin near the sternum, and your hands on the pelvis. Just in case tilt the thighs back a little from the perpendicular and with minimally twists to one side to get one hand on the same-side foot.
- Then press your thighs back to perpendicular, turning your torso back to neutral, and touch the second hand to its foot. If you're not able to touch your feet without compressing your lower back, turn your toes under and elevate your heels.
- See that your lower front ribs aren't protruding sharply toward the ceiling, which eventually results in hardening of belly and compresses the lower back.
- Now release the front ribs and lift the front of the pelvis up, toward the ribs. Then lift the lower back ribs away from the pelvis to keep the lower spine as long as possible. Press your palms firmly against your soles (or heels), with the bases of the palms on the heels and the fingers pointing toward the toes. Turn your arms outwardly so the elbow creases face forward, without squeezing the shoulder blades together.
- Stay in this pose for about 30 seconds to a minute.
- O come out of this pose bring your hands onto the front of your pelvis, at the hip points. Inhale and lift the head and torso up by pushing the hip points down, toward the floor. If your head is back, lead with your heart to come up, not by jutting the chin toward the ceiling and leading with your brain.
- Rest in Child's Pose or Balasana for a few breaths.
The benefits of this asana are:
- This asana has great therapeutic value in respiratory ailments, mild backache, fatigue, anxiety, and various menstrual discomforts.
- Stretches the entire front of the body, the ankles, the thighs, and the groins.
- Brings about the stretching of the deep flexor muscles.
- Improves the posture.
- Stimulates various organs in the abdomen and neck.
- Improves spinal flexibility.
- Helps in rejuvenating the blood flow to the kidneys.
The precautionary measures for this asana are:
- Should be avoided by individuals with high or low blood pressures.
- And must not be practiced if suffering from migraine, insomnia, and a serious lower back or a neck injury.
- Neck must be in a neutral position and it should neither be too flexed nor too extended.