Yoga – which means ‘to unite’ in Sanskrit – is an ancient Indian system of health and fitness. Widely considered as one of the best methods to achieving holistic health, fitness and battling stress. The regular practice of yoga ensures a healthy and active life well into a ripe old age, claim experts. Ustraasana, i.e. camel pose – can simply be described as kneeling backbend. Camel Pose is a progression from the simpler prone backbend like Dhanuranasa (Bow Pose).
Step by step procedure for attaining the posture: Kneel on the floor with your knees at hip width and thighs perpendicular to the floor. Keep your thighs pressed together. Move your hands to the back, just above the buttocks. Now lean back and slide your hands over your legs till they reach the ankles. To begin with you might not find this easy to do, and if you feel a strain in the back, don’t push yourself beyond that point.
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. You can keep your neck in a relatively neutral position, neither flexed nor extended, or drop your head back. But be careful not to strain your neck and harden your throat.
Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute. To exit, 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 chest to come up, not by jutting the chin upwards. You may use a pad/mat/hard cushion/blanket under your knees and shins.
Beginners very often may not be able to touch their hands to their feet without straining their back or neck. First, try to turn your toes under and elevate your heels. If this doesn’t work, the next thing to do is to rest each hand on a block. Position the blocks just outside each heel, and stand them at their highest height (usually about 9 inches). If you’re still having difficulty, get a chair. Kneel for the pose with your back to the chair, with your calves and feet below the seat and the front edge of the seat touching your buttocks. Then lean back and bring your hands to the sides of the seat or high up on the front chair legs.
Ustrasana The Camel Pose
Benefits of Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
- It is a good workout for the ankles, thighs and groins, abdomen, chest, and throat.
- Strengthens back muscles and improves posture. Helps tone the back, calf, neck and abdominal muscles. It stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck.
- Improves digestion.
- Stretches and opens the front of the body. It also strengthens the back and shoulders.
- Relieves the body of lower back ache.
- Improves flexibility of the spine and also improves posture.
- Helps overcome menstrual discomfort.
Contraindications of Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
-High or low blood pressure
-Serious low back or neck injury.
How to do Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
- Kneel on the yoga mat and place your hands on the hips.
- Your knees should be in line with the shoulders and the sole of your feet should be facing the ceiling.
- As you inhale, draw in your tail-bone towards the pubis as if being pulled from the navel.
- Simultaneously, arch your back and slide your palms over your feet till the arms are straight.
- Do not strain or flex your neck but keep it in a neutral position.
- Stay in this posture for a couple of breaths.
- Breathe out and slowly come back to the initial pose. Withdraw your hands and bring them back to your hips as you straighten up.
The researchers found that yoga outperformed aerobic and other forms of exercise at improving balance, flexibility, strength, pain levels among seniors, menopausal symptoms, daily energy level, and social and occupation functioning, among other health parameters.
Learn about all the Yoga Asanas (Poses) from basic poses, advanced poses, seated and standing poses, twists and bandha with Contraindications and Benefits.
If you are serious about your health and do not want to pay heavy medical bills to doctors then do practice these Yoga asanas (postures) and stay healthy.